this is how I spend my time

Reading Austin Kleon’s latest book, Keep Going, I find myself nodding my head in agreement with his suggestions for how to sustain a meaningful and productive life. From the section, Establish a Daily Routine:

“A daily routine will get you through the day and help you make the most of it . . . When you don’t have much time, a routine helps you make the little time you have count. When you have all the time in the world, a routine helps you make sure you don’t waste it.”

Having been on the busy end of the spectrum for many years, I find my days and my time are now mostly my own. In the past it was easy to blame my shortcomings on having too much to do and not enough time. Didn’t take a walk or get outside today? Too busy. Don’t have time to cook at home? Too tired. Let’s just order takeout. No time to grow up or learn from my mistakes? Can’t slow down to think about it.

For the first time in my life, I have time to slow down. And it’s surprisingly discomforting. But rather than reacting by filling my life to overflowing with activities and clubs and other distractions, I am embracing the uncertainty and the discomfort. I’m working through this season of life rather than working around it.

I have much to learn. And the time to sink deeply into what interests me.

Making pictures, or pursuing some creative work, is a part of my daily routine. I seek shelter in the rhythm of the work, the doing. Some days every picture I make seems lifeless, as though I’ve just missed the mark. And other days, the work flows easily and I see progress and potential in myself.

I’ve long admired the work of photographer, Kara Rosenlund. Her book, Shelter: How Australians Live, makes me want to travel the back roads of my home - to photograph and celebrate the people and places of the rural South. What strikes me most about her work, and really any work that touches me deeply, is authenticity. I love the rich, deep colors in many of her photographs and have kept my eyes open for some similar view in my travels.

I’ve stopped to admire these Knock-Out roses alongside Kenmore Cleaners every spring. For some reason, perhaps the abundance of rainfall, the roses are especially lush this year. The red roses against the green concrete building are stunning. I’ve taken this photo multiple times across multiple years and never been satisfied with the resulting image. Those vibrant colors that look so beautiful to the human eye are interpreted as a supersaturated mess without detail by my digital camera. Post-processing for an image like this one requires finesse, and I’m still not certain I’ve got it right. But I’m on the right path.

When you pay attention to your life, it not only provides you with the material for your art, it also helps you fall in love with your life.
— Austin Kleon