I was at the Greenbrier earlier this week. I won a full scholarship to attend The Symposium for Professional Food Writers. . It is always a life-changing experience to go to the Greenbrier and attend this conference. I have been once before. It was six year (or so ago). I had just quit my corporate job and was wondering what to do with my life when I won a scholarship for my “writing voice.” I met several editors there who gave me work and started me on a new journey. This year was no different. I met amazing editors, made new friends and feel like I got my mojo back.
One of the best parts of the symposium was that I got to learn from one of my idols: Francis Lam. He taught a workshop on learning how to write with our senses. We wandered the lush green grounds of the resort and stopped along the way to document what we saw.
I don’t know if he would love or hate this piece. This is unedited text.. just as I wrote it for the exercise…Here is one of the things I wrote:
The sight of beautiful flowers haunts me.
I stare at the perfect sunflower. It stands regal with it’s smooth yellow petals reaching for the sun. I marvel at it’s slender long stem that holds it upright, at the deep black center that nurtures it, the strong base that provides it at home.
I am surrounded by beauty that haunts. Perfectly pink flowers glowing in the sun, long slender blue flowers hiding under bright green leaves, strong-willed red flowers swaying merrily in the gentle wind.
The wind caresses my hair, the wet grass under my naked feet forces me to stop and stare.
I take out my camera. I hesitate. I put the camera back in my bag.
Over the years, on my world travels, I have found myself obsessively taking pictures of flowers I encounter on my tours.
At first, it was fun. I would take pictures of nature’s perfect bounty, post it (on FB or my blog or email to friends), and I would get a ton of emails telling me how gorgeous the photos were. I felt great.
And then the guilt began to set in.
Was I taking the easy way out in my travels? Was shooting flowers, already perfect, a cop out? Should I have been taking pictures of the reality that isn’t so perfect? Finding off-the-beaten-path sights and shooting those?
Was shooting flowers a cop out?
Shooting something that was simply gorgeous in it’s own right and then getting compliments for my shots seemed to me, strangely, like cheating. (Hey, I never said I was normal).
I felt as though I was adding nothing to the photo. What was my contribution?
But today, as I walked around and allowed myself to slow down and take in nature’s perfection, I realized the things are sometimes there just to be admired. I realized that it was okay to slow down, to stare, to admire and to want to share the beauty that I saw with those whom I care about.
I realized that it is okay if I did not add anything to the mix.
Perhaps I am only meant to share the abundance that I see in front of me.
So with that, here are some of the photos that I took in India of the beauty I encountered. I don’t know the names of most of the flowers. I don’t know their origin. All I know is that they are gorgeous and I was lucky enough to take photos to share with you.
Click on any of the images to enlarge them.