Light Changes Things—The Backstory
When I was 15 years old, I had one of the most memorable and profound experiences of my life. I took a photography class. Not just any photography class, but Mr. C’s photography class. Mr. C seemed to bounce when he walked, and spoke with a lively, animated tone. There was no doubt that Mr. C loved photography. His enthusiasm was contagious.
On the very first day of class, Mr. C showed us a film that would change how I viewed the world and everything in it, forever. It was called A Time to See, featuring photographer Reinhold Marxhausen, who unveiled the magic of looking through a lens. The lens was not just that of a camera, but how our own eyes see light, color, and shape. As he took us on a tour of his own kitchen at different times of the day, and on different days at the same time, a variety of images emerged that would have gone unnoticed without his attentive prompt. On a cloudy day, a bucket hanging in the window was plain and unremarkable; on a sunny day, it was full of light and shadow that made that same bucket look like it was playfully smiling. Nothing else about the bucket had changed, except its interaction with light and time. “Light changes things,” Marxhausen said. I still hear his voice ringing with wisdom… clearly, distinctly, and melodiously in my ears.
The film went on with more and more exquisite images of the most mundane objects found in an abandoned farmyard. What appeared to be broken down and forgotten, became treasured art. I sat spellbound as this expanded way of noticing encompassed me and filled me to the very core of my being. Looking back, I believe it was a spiritual awakening of some kind. This film was not just about photography. It was really about taking time to SEE, deeply, attentively, from different angles and perspectives, and to notice how the play of light changes the way we perceive things around us.
Years later, when I learned life and business coaching skills, I had a similar awakening. We were taught to become curious observers, make distinctions rather than interpretations, and behold things as they were, rather than how we wanted or hoped them to be. These tools became different lenses and frames by which to gaze upon life and others. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was cultivating what is called non-dual thinking. I learned how to observe without judging, to notice and be curious without attaching my meanings, and to listen deeply and be open to what other understanding may emerge, as I put my own agenda and preconceptions aside.
These two influences are my inspiration for the course Light Changes Things.