My last posts were about a day full of synchronicity: a series of “magical” events coming together in an almost unbelievable way. This one is about an event that happened in that same day and had great impact on me.
After meeting Celia and her two daughters (see Syncronicity – Event 2). I had an encounter with a photograph that served as a kind of proof to what I have been learning regarding facilitation of change processes and transformation in social systems. Especially the quote bellow started making more sense:
“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” (Bill O’Brien, former CEO of Hanover insurance).
What is this “inner condition” about?
That day I left home feeling really at ease. That has not been the rule lately. In times of change, moving between countries, facing unknown situations and creating a new base of life, I would expect me to be very tense. This is why I have been trying to keep up some practices like meditation, breathing techniques, Qi-gong and yoga which really help me to restore alignment, balance and be relaxed in turbulent times.
That morning I had a very profound meditation practice and was feeling an uncommon lightness and at peace. While walking on the streets, looking for a place where I could take passport photos, I was wondering about what made me feel like that. There was a sense of tranquility and wholeness – very hard to find the right words here. As I walked, I kept observing my inner and outer world, I was awake yet relaxed. What could have caused that sensation in times when stress is a global trend? I observed other pedestrians and most of them seemed to be in a hurry. What makes possible for a person to maintain a sense of peace and relaxation in big cities, under pressure, in transitional phases and when facing uncertainty (also a global trend)? I had no answer, but that didn’t bother me.
I was happy to see a little sign indicating “Passport photos here”. I needed it urgently for a bureaucratic procedure. Bureaucracy has been consuming a lot of time since my return to Brazil. I couldn’t be happier as I read in the papers recently that Brazil was elevated to the rank 118ª (2013, it was 116ª in 2012) amongst 189 countries in terms of bureaucracy according to the World Bank.
Eventually I took the photos I urgently needed and had to wait to pick them up. The photographer, working at the computer, suddenly looked at me and asked: “What do you do professionaly”?
In my mind I was wondering: “This question has been all around since I returned to Brazil. I have the impression that every single person asks me that. Now… even in the photo shop!? What is going on?”
It’s been hard for me to explain with simple words what my work looks like. It is easier when I know something more about the context of the person who is asking and can give concrete examples. But in that context I could not figure out how to explain it in a single sentence without using jargons such as innovation processes, dealing with complexity, uncertainty, awareness based change, etc.
I answered politely: “I studied civil engineering, but what I am doing currently has basically nothing to do with this.”
She said: “I thought you did something related to arts”.
“What makes you think that?” I asked curiously.
“I don’t know. Maybe because you irradiate something light, tranquil and relaxed.” She replied.
I thought: Oh my God! That is amazing. Some minutes ago I was just wondering why I was feeling in such a state of ease and now someone gives me the same feedback from outside? I was now really getting interested and continued asking:
“But what exactly makes you perceive that?”
She said that she has developed a feeling for people; she looks at them through her lenses – good metaphor for a photographer! – She continued: “Some people are very heavy… do you know what I mean?” She had difficulties to find words to describe it and gave an example to what she meant:
“I used to paint and do a lot with arts. Then I stopped doing it for a while. I don’t know if it was also because I was going through a tough time, but I started feeling very heavy; I felt stressed and tense.”
She told me how she started working with photography by watching a professional photographer: “I opened this shop, and ended up working with photography on my own, learning by doing. Things started happening without much planning. Then I combined photography with the renting-clothes business – which was in the adjoining room – because I saw at weddings and parties that people needed that.” She pointed out to a dress that was hanging there and said: “Look at that dress – I stitched it myself. And I never took courses or classes; I just try and do it. My hands create the pattern in the moment. With photography it was the same. I just started doing it. This is the same with drawing and painting. Now I decided to take arts more seriously and I am studying at Belas Artes. And I feel very light again.”
Rosaline was her name. She showed me the drawings she was currently working on for her art’s studies. They mirrored some images I had from my experience of living in Zambia and traveling around Africa which were still fresh in my mind. That somehow touched me.
I guess Rosaline had the personal qualities and sensitivity that enables her to observe the current state of people’s inner reality. It is the ability to see oneself’s and the world of others as it really is. I guess that is the gift of an artist. Betty Edwards in her book “Drawing with the left side of the brain” mentions that drawing is not a difficult task. The difficulty lies in “seeing”. Everyone who sees the things in that especial way that artists are able to see is capable to drawing. Many artists have mentioned the fact that they see things differently when they are drawing or painting and normally they are put in another perceptual and conscious level which is different from their common operation level. In this subjective state, even the perception of time is altered, actually, it almost disappears. They feel aware and awake yet relaxed and liberated from anxiety. They experience a pleasant and maybe even mystic mental activity.
Maybe that was what I was experiencing that morning. Maybe that was the artist in me! Anyway, I just thought that whoever develops this kind of perception is much more creative and capable of bringing about new things and solutions in the world. Rosaline taught me that through her examples of how she started her new business from the scratch.
Rosaline’s photo studio is at Rua das Flores in Curitiba. If you need photos for documents, weddings, parties, books, etc, I recommend you to go there: https://www.facebook.com/EstudioJC.Ctba
She also writes a blog and you can find some great stories there: http://www.blogger.com/profile/09851047826945391047
By the way, have you ever met “a stranger” who appeared to be so familiar to you that you ended up having very interesting and meaningful conversations, creating an unexplainable connection? Please share your stories in the comment box.
 Belas Artes is a famous art’s school in Curitiba. For students to pass the exam they have to prove their talent for arts and undergo very demanding tests.