Self-portraits have begun to intrigue me. I used to think that self-portraits were terrible navel-gazing, but I've begun to change my mind.
I realize that I look at myself in the mirror less and less. (Thank you, Liz, for your bravery on this front!) I never really looked that much, anyway, but now I'm avoiding myself a bit. Partly because I'm wearing a very thick retainer, so I think I look somewhat slack-jawed and horsey. I'm getting a back molar fixed so that I don't lose a tooth, but I'm not thrilled about this orthodontia stuff.
Anyway. I look in the mirror and my mouth and chin don't look right because of the retainer. Then I look at the sagging skin under the chin, my nose with its perimenopausal zits (man, I had fewer zits at 16!), the hair going grayer . . . and I am not very kind to my aging self. I am so much better at criticizing myself than at having compassion for myself. My friends have told me through the years that I am way too hard on myself, and I know it. Critiquing my looks is the least of it.
(This morning, 7:30 am -- looking warily at the camera.)
If I can learn to look at my physical self with more patience and love, can I learn to embrace my mind and my soul, too?
I've been doing some inner work over the last few years, and I have made progress. Yet I see that it's all one piece -- whole cloth, if you will. I foolishly sweep away part of my life if I ignore how I look at and live in my body. The inner and the outer need to heal together.
There's a great group on Flickr, called 365 days. You take a self-portrait every day for a year. A self-portrait must include any part of your body. It's a great photographic and artistic challenge. How do you avoid the boring and the cliched? How do you not get sick of looking at yourself after a month? How do you represent yourself every day?
I wonder if I can use the camera to learn how to embrace myself.
I'm going to try it for awhile. I have no idea if I'll keep it up past a week. I will put the photos up on my Flickr account, but I doubt I'll be putting them on the Flickr self-portrait groups. I'll put some up here, too -- I'm sure I'll have things to say about some of them. If you don't find them interesting, that's okay, because I'm sure I will not love them all, either. I am more interested in the journey than in the outcome. I'm being public about it all because (a) it keeps me honest, and (b) I am hopeful and grateful that you may want to witness this journey with me.