My life has been a long train of ambitions, standards and objectives measured in terms of success and failure, or so it seems.

It has been relentless. It’s the same for everyone. We are urged to enjoy ‘life’s pleasures to the full’, become wise, ‘savour the moment’, ‘travel the world’, climb another mountain, be masterful and so on. Acquisition of objects, knowledge, skill and experience underpins all and, in terms of how our society recognises value, I’ve been quite successful. But content?

Something important gets left behind in this cacophony. Actually, it’s there all the time but we are too busy to notice. It’s a stillness that prefigures even the notion of silence/noise. It can’t be approached through intention or through trying. It can only be glimpsed through not achieving. Daoists call it ‘wu-wei’ – following what is spontaneous.

I do not want my photography to simply add to a long list of ambitions. I do not want to plan my next picture. I do not want to tell a story with a photograph. I do not want to set out on a photographic journey or document an event. I simply want to savour the light, marvel at the nuances of shade, merge with what I see. It’s more than enough, as I grow old.

From a window, Rock Farm Estate, Co. Mayo, Ireland © Tony Cearns 2017

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