ABSORBED

This week I was thinking about the quality of being absorbed in an activity. I wondered about the origin of the word so I googled it. In an online etymology dictionary, I read that the English “absorb” comes from an old French word that derives from Latin. Breaking it down, “ab” in this case means “from” and “sorb” comes from the Latin sorbeo, to suck in or swallow. These combine into “absorbere” or “absorbeo” – to swallow up or devour. The Proto-Indo-European language root was “srebh.” I can really hear the sound of sucking in that word! I wonder if it ultimately derived from the sound of a nursing child.

In German there is absorbieren. A related German word, schlΓΌrfen, sounds to me like someone slurping beer. πŸ˜‰ In Dutch there’s slurpen, in Italian, assorbito. The Welsh word is amsugno; perhaps Graham will explain how that fits in. Or doesn’t.

At any rate, by the 18th century, absorbed also meant completely gripping one’s attention. When we are absorbed we incorporate and assimilate with full attention (again, think of a nursing child, oblivious to everything but the task at hand). The idea of complete attention is important. To be absorbed in something necessitates an absence of distraction. It’s almost a refusal of incoming sensory information, except within the narrow field of engagement. When I think about being absorbed I sense a unity, a lack of boundary between what we call the self and the object of our attention. The separation that our minds create between ourselves and the rest of the world is useful for functioning in daily life but when we’re completely absorbed in an activity the separation recedes. Some of these ideas are my personal associations with the experience of being absorbed. Isn’t it interesting that we humans communicate by using agreed-upon word meanings but we each have a whole host of subjective associations attached to words as well?

This state of absorption is akin to flow, a concept developed by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. His interest in creativity and happiness led him to assert that being fully absorbed in something for its own sake, or being in the flow as he called it, enhances our feelings of well-being and our creativity. Csikszentmihalyi talked about the importance of a balance between skill and challenge in the flow state. He recognized that motivation in this state is intrinsic, not external. The theory of a flow state isn’t exactly the same as the concept of being absorbed in something, but active focus and a sense of timelessness are characteristic of both.

This state of flow or absorption is a very human quality, something we all experience. As photographers, we’re pleased when we sense the dropping away of day-to-day worries and concerns and become fully absorbed in what we’re doing. Truth be told, we often hope that when we get home we’ll find an image that reflects the way we felt, even if it doesn’t convey the full experience. Looking through photographs that I made in the last month, there are hardly any pretty blue skies. The fullness of spring is just a dream. But even in less than optimal conditions, when inspiration doesn’t come easy, it’s possible to enter into a meditative state of absorption. And whether a pleasing photograph results or not, any time spent being absorbed in something is its own reward.

*

1. It’s easy to be absorbed in the changing light of a fog bank at sunset.
2. And once you look, it’s just as easy to get lost in sand patterns on a beach.

3. Even a disintegrating fern frond rivets my attention.

4.
5.
6.

7.

8.
9.
10.
11. Fog again. The barely visible structure of a bridge in the distance drew me into the mist.

12.
13.

*

Whether it’s a small detail, a wide vista, or something in between, being absorbed in what I see is one of the best things about being human on this earth. It goes without saying that music, touch, and all of the senses offer the possibility and pleasure of full absorption into the moment. I hope everyone experiences at least a few moments of absorption today.

***


141 comments

  1. Yes, it’s very interesting to think about absorbtion and flow. Thank you for your profounf thoughts about it and speak about what they have got in common or not.
    May I add the word concentration in this ? Then absorbtion would be nearer to it than flow for me. Absorbtion can be an intellectual concentration if I guess right and if English concentration has got the same meaning as the German word Konzentration. There’s something like Leave me alone,please, if it isn’t group work. A whole group might be absorbed in the same topic, though. Don’t we come across absorbtion more in science, studies, information, analysis, I wonder. Flow iseems more authentical to me, concerning the whole human being, more to be found in experiences, playing, creativity , art. I combine it with more pleasure, passion and love?
    Your photos are great again. Your last image is a special,gorgeous treasure for me! Best regards, Petra

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi, Petra, how nice meeting you here and reading your thoughtful remarks. But simply emotionally, I disagree with you here: I feel concentration as a more intellectual state of mind, whereas absorption is almost synonymous to flow, more like the German expression of Hingabe, or Selbstvergessenheit, how Gerhard named it above. Maybe, absorption lies nearest to Versunkenheit: to be sunken into one’s subject?

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    • Maybe absorption is a certain kind of concentration. But as I said to Gerhard above, translating is tricky and I would not be surprised to learn that the German Konzentration has a slightly different feeling to it than the English word. In English concentration is different than absorption. Concentration can happen without the feeling of losing oneself in what you are doing. You can just concentrate on a problem, for example, and solve it – but you may or may not have been really absorbed by the problem. I like your idea of “Leave me alone please” which makes me smile. Yes! I think if you picture a cloth completely absorbing a liquid maybe that shows the feeling of totality in absorption, a feeling that you find more in flow. I get what you’re saying about flow being a better description of a certain kind of experience.
      Thank you very much for getting a good conversation going – you have sparked something more here. And I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs, too – I almost walked right by that tiny feather on the rocky beach. I knew that it was pretty but I didn’t see the real treasure until I got home. πŸ™‚

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  2. Your text about devotional action reads so pleasantly, dear Lynn, it seems like an acute introduction to one’s own creative activity, the attunement to flow. And again thoroughly researched, so that the hunger of the mind is not neglected either.

    Some of your photos take my breath away, I think they’re so magnificent, especially the last one, where the sparkling drops on the quill quote the background of soft-toned pebbles. But also No.5, in which the shadow lines overlay the leaves and the wood grain, conveys perfect harmony. The spirit of absorption flows from all photos, the spiritual merging of the photographer with her subject. There is no more convincing way to illustrate your text about flow. The viewer feels it breathing.

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    • I like Versunkenheit in your conversation with Petra – I almost hear the bubbles coming up after being immersed into the project. πŸ˜‰ Seriously, the word (if I imagine it correctly) sounds like a big object going underwater. And I like Petra’s idea of tasting the meanings, another body-based concept.
      What a wonderful way to see the raindrops on the feather – they quote the pebbles. Very cool! #5 was in the forest. I think that leaf has been there for a long time. The sunlight added a perfect touch.
      Once again I appreciate your generosity, Ule, and let’s say what you describe is what I aspire to. If I get there sometimes that’s great. I keep trying, that’s all. Breathing. That’s perfect.

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      • Versunkenheit can surely be imagined as something big deep down. If my comment gives you a feeling of being understood in what you aspire to, it came out how it was meant to be. Big hugs to you (both) πŸ’•

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  3. Excellent essay, Lynn. And the photos accompany and illustrate beautifully. A complement or another side to absorption is to be β€œtaken out of yourself.” That seems a more clumsy and homely expression but what a pleasure when your thoughts have been trapped in everyday neural ruts or circling round and round over worries or sadnesses. Falling into a pleasant reverie or reflection, or even better, becoming wholeheartedly absorbed in something outside yourself, is a wonderful head-clearing breath of fresh air, a great feeling. Thanks for the great post!

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      • I didn’t take time to comment, every photo here is beautiful and absorbing. That leathery leaf on weathered wood is such an appealing shot, and for some reason, prompts you to think about how they’re such different objects, yet created by the same organism. And the bejeweled feather is simply spectacular. I’ve been reading some history, fiction, and listening to music from the 1920’s, and so that feather would’ve been a great party tiara for a flapper, it’d make a great cover for “The Great Gatsby.”

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  4. I love the idea of flow or absorption in one’s creative endeavors. You always seem to immerse yourself fully in both your explorations and your photography. I love your details, especially the one of the leaves with the branchy shadows, and the miniature pine cone with the moss peeking from the asphalt. The fog bank at sunset, and the other fog engulfed landscapes are also wonderful! πŸ™‚

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  5. Beautiful work. I adore the first photo with its unbelievable and perfect color in the fog…and with the trees and the way the changing light is flowing in to them…through the fog bank. And I love the other photos with mist and fog.

    I am an etymology geek, and REALLY loved your digging deep into ‘absorb’, and your analysis of the engagement and perceptual shield involved…like the suckling of a newborn indeed.

    And I read ‘Flow’, and really loved what he had to say about challenge, engagement, and enjoyment. I think about that concept a lot.

    Thanks for your beautiful post.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you! The fog was wonderful for a time. It suits this landscape. How gratifying to read what you say about my very modest bit of text. I can’t say I’m an etymology anything but I think it’s always worthwhile to get to the root of anything. Words are no exception, especially when a word meaning or origin connects so clearly to the body.
      It sounds interesting but even after googling, I’m still not clear on the concept of a perceptual shield. Maybe I need to try that again in the afternoon, with espresso on board. Another confession: I didn’t read “Flow” though I had heard of it. So I gathered what I could for this post. It’s good to see that you read and enjoyed it. My understanding of absorption, and possibly flow, comes out of childhood experience and several years living in a zen community. Thanks so much for commenting, Holly, I really appreciate it. Enjoy your weekend!

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      • OOOh, “perceptual shield” doesn’t mean anything, really–just hasty word salad on my part.

        I think of the nursing child, focused on its mother and the breast and all those things that we think of with those early formative stages. I am not a mother, but my sister has a new baby. It was your discussion of ‘absorb’ and the nursing associations that made me create the rather odd phrase, “perceptual shield”. There’s something very intimate in the mother-child bond (obviously): the baby seems to shut out any external stimulus outside the mother (but engaging both her breast and her eyes), while receiving the nourishment during the bonding process.

        Fascinating for this childless woman! πŸ™‚

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  6. Good afternoon, dear Lynn,
    we found it interesting how you see absorbtion onematopoetic. We suppose the roots of lots of words are onematopoetic.
    Absorption means for me that the difference between object and subject vanishes. One can see this as the basis of creativity or of naivity. Absorption for me is a centredness of mind beyond disturbing feelings that constantly distract us.
    We like your pictures showing the structures of reality that clearly.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 6 people

    • Yes, the idea that this word could derive from a sound is an enticing bit of the primitive in our very technologically advanced world. It’s nice to see associations with the body, isn’t it? Your description of absorption works for me. It seems that getting beyond the distractions is much easier now than it was when I was working. It’s such a pleasure to be able to get outside almost anytime I want to. I’m glad you Fab Four enjoyed the photos! Have a wonderful weekend and thank you.

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  7. What a beautiful narrative umbrella for your absorbing photographs, Lynn. I love the overlapping trianglesβ€”and the color!β€”in the first photograph. The hanging spider web in #4 makes complementary curves to the branches; how nice. How did you manage to make the shadows in #5 add to the composition rather than destroy it? Marvelous. Ah, and there is the bullwhip kelp in #6; so happy to see it again, this time in a slightly different configuration from others you have given us. I’m seeing a calligraphic message in your lovely #10, but I can’t quite read it. Maybe it’s an Asian scriptβ€”to go with the Asian-painting feeling of #11. It’s amazing how the water droplets in #13 magnify the feather beneath them. The tonal contrast in this one is perfect. β€œCrystalline” is the term that keeps coming to mind when I try to describe this photo. I love it.

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    • A narrative umbrella, huh? Nice! πŸ™‚ And I drew you over to the dark side (sunset photos!) with that first one, right? πŸ˜‰ The shadows in #5 were kind to show up just as I was passing by. It’s a nice idea that #10 holds a calligraphic message. I think so, too. How about dance notation? It could be that! I can see an Asian influence but the idea of dance notation seems more fun or a little bit of Jean Arp on the beach. The feather was a very pretty sight but I had no idea that I would see all those little lenses magnifying what was underneath. I was so pleased that the focus worked, without a tripod and the light was sufficient. Crystalline is a good word for it. Thank you, I’m thinking about you!

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  8. Another beautiful series. I never imagined fog could be so colourful as in #1. #13 is magical in the detail. The dew (or raindrops) and wet rocks make for an absorbing and interesting detail on the ground.

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    • That fog-infused sunset was pretty amazing. For me It’s always a matter of luck when you’re there at the right time. But I HAVE learned not to hesitate when I see something like that happening – you have to move quickly. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Vicki, and I hope all’s well with you.

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  9. …absorbed in these images, Lynn. The rich colors and textures are just wonderful. The leaf in #5 looks as if it were cut from a piece of old leather. I prefer these earthy colors and tones over blue skies…

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  10. Oh, what a wonderful post, Lynn! I very much appreciate your pondering of the nondual experience of the subject/object duality and how it relates to photography. I can relate to the idea of Flow (or the Taoist concept of wei-wu-wei) in relation to being totally absorbed and losing yourself when in the process of making images with the camera.

    And thank you for the mention, Lynn. Although I live in Wales, I don’t speak the language so my knowledge of it is pretty superficial. I’m therefore afraid I can’t comment on amsugno. What I can contribute, however, is a word I love in Spanish: ensimismarse. And for the etymologically inclined, this comes from en sΓ­ mismo (into one’s self).

    Now, with regards to this state of absorption when photographing, when the distance and separation between subject and object diminishes, I have become fascinated by the different interpretations of this (and nondual experience in general) offered by various traditions (e.g. mahayana no-self, advaita all-self, ‘union’ with the absolute / infinite consciousness / source / ground of being / tao / sunyata / brahman / divine / great spirit / god / whatever word you want to use – and I say ‘union’ in quotes as you can’t really merge with what you already are, I guess.)

    Anyhow…

    As usual your photographs are beautiful and thought provoking – a delight to simply experience.

    Highlights for me this time were:

    * the modelling of form in the counter-relief etched by nature in the sand (#2)

    * the sole water droplet defying gravity by ahering to the fern frond (#3)

    * the Indra’s Net of tiny droplets strung on silk in the beautifully illuminated spider’s web (#4)

    * the bands of absence of light intersecting with the tactile depiction of the veinous structure of leaves (#5)

    * the enigmatic symbolism of the asemic twig arrangement and gritty texture of its ‘canvas’ (#10)

    * #13 (no commentary – the image simply and beautifully speaks for itself to me)

    βœ¨πŸ™πŸ•‰β˜€πŸŒ™βš–πŸͺ”πŸ•Šβ™ΎπŸˆšβ˜―πŸŒπŸ²πŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ

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    • Thanks so much, Graham, sorry I didn’t give you a heads up about the mention. Even a superficial knowledge of Welsh must be far more than the rest of us have! I like the Spanish word for losing oneself – one might even get lost trying to pronounce it, the first time around. πŸ˜‰
      Are you talking about the physical distance, i.e. when one is viewing/sensing something very close up? It seems that being physically close would make it easier to get lost in something. But I like the idea of being in a big space, feeling it all around you, and losing yourself in that, too.
      As you know, it’s hard to talk about nonduality – our words aren’t quite up to the task. But I agree that when you look across traditions it seems that many people, over the course of many years, have tried to describe a similar (I hesitate to say the same!) phenomenon. I appreciate your bringing that up. And speaking of flow, I guess something like flow dynamics is what creates patterns like the ones in the sand in #2, though I know nothing about physics.
      Indra’s net, yes, yes! πŸ˜‰ What you describe in #5 is what caught my eye – the leaf veins are so sharply etched and the light/shadow so soft, yet something unites them. You too see something asemic in #10. That little arrangement amused me. An elephant seal was born near there last week and the area will remain closed for quite a while so mom can nurse pup. πŸ™‚
      Many thanks for your time, Graham.

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      • Oh please don’t worry about that, no problem at all – it was a very nice surprise to see the mention. Going back to that Spanish word, I have to add that I do like its rhythm (and also that of the adjectival/past-participle form: ensimismado) – five short syllables, enough to span an entire haiku line.

        I think I primarily meant distance in a metaphorical sense, but your question prompts another (rhetorical one): where is awareness?

        Thanks for sharing the news about the seal: what a lovely new creation in the ongoing cycle…

        βœ¨πŸ™πŸ•‰β˜€πŸŒ™βš–πŸͺ”πŸ•Šβ™ΎπŸˆšβ˜―πŸŒπŸ²πŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ

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        • OK, metaphysical…sometimes I have a tendency to be very literal. πŸ˜‰ So, in the act of using the camera, as one takes in the scene/seen, one dissolves boundaries between oneself and the – whatever. I think – as hard as it is to express these concepts – that people should talk about this more. So again, I appreciate your comment.

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        • πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ A ‘seen scene’ – I like that. Raises more questions (again rhetorical!) – does the scene exist if it is not seen? And talking about hard to express, I’ve just recently been reading Loy’s Nonduality book – good, but very academic and I can’t say I really understood a fair bit of his argument…

          πŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ

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  11. Words… language. One can certainly become quite absorbed in them. I grew up speaking Latvian and German… then, at the age of 5, English replaced German entirely. These days the Latvian (supposedly a language with old Sanskrit or Indo-European roots) is fading from disuse as well. In my experience there are concepts that simply don’t translate…
    Before I go too deeply into that rabbit hole, I wish to express my appreciation for your mention of “Flow” by Csikszentmihalyi. Can’t help but wonder if that surname alone didn’t contribute to a different state of mind…πŸ˜‰ His book opened my mind in so many ways. It might even be time for a 3rd read. It does explain that inexplicable sensation when photography becomes a sort of magic…
    Funny how your posts seem to create a ‘flow’ of their own. More often than not, I need to return and savor them, diving a bit deeper with each visit. The visuals alone encourage absorption. But you seem to be adding another depth with your words these days.
    I’ve noticed how it’s far easier to enter that state of flow when meandering alone… no matter how accommodating a companion might be. Perhaps it’s why I’ve been diving back to that stretch of my life when it was just me and the camera. (A canine companion being the exception.)
    “If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
    you very much.” ― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

    ​​I won’t, I can’t pick a favorite image this time… they all take me to that state you’ve described so beautifully. Each and every one is utterly absorbing.
    ​Unless… in Graham’s words: ” #13 (no commentary – the image simply and beautifully speaks for itself to me)”​. πŸ™πŸ’ž

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    • Your language journey gives you a different, and probably richer outlook on the world, I imagine. As you said with our “Flow” friend. I knew of the book but didn’t read it – good to hear that you did. It’s very flattering that you might find it worthwhile to return to a post, too, thank you! The text is getting more attention these days, you’re right. It’s just happening naturally, we’ll see where it goes.
      Yes, it’s way easier to be in that state when you’re alone, perhaps with the exception of some spiritual group dynamics. Or singing together with a group or choir. And those are slightly different experiences than what we feel when we’re alone and able to lose ourselves.
      Thank you, Gunta! Thanks a lot! πŸ˜‰

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      • It seems you’re developing a style reminiscent of the bohemian coffee house, but gathered here at WP. πŸ˜‰ Some great conversations being stirred.
        “The text is getting more attention these days… with good reason!
        You could say I like where you’re headed! 😊

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        • Eric just said to tell you he is enthralled with your #13! (Don’t remember the precise word, but you get the meaning.) I do wish he would post some of his bird captures from his hikes up the creek and around the yard. He’s catching some marvelous up-close shots of our crazy Anna’s… a certain color flashes with the perfect lighting and detail. I’ve been too absorbed poking back in the memory hole to do it.
          I’m thinking something like the “Bluebrightly Salon” / Coffeehouse? πŸ˜‰

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      • for e.g. Lewis Richmond, in his book “Aging as a Spiritual Practice” discusses it – here’s a quote: “Horizontal time begins in childhood… The story doesn’t end today. It continues around the bend… There is another kind of time I call ‘vertical time,’ which means this present moment: this room, this book, this body, this breath. While horizontal time is largely mental, vertical time is more physical and is expressed in the body and the breath.

        “Unlike horizontal time, vertical time has no before and after. It is always just here. It is always just here. Picture horizontal time as a road stretching to left and right, and then vertical time in your breath, a column moving up and down. Up and down, rising and falling, the breath travels vertically.

        “Vertical time doesn’t go anywhere in space. It doesn’t move from a certain past to an uncertain future. It rests continually in the same place. Regret and worry do not disappear. But they are no longer the only possibilities.”

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        • I don’t know that book – it sounds good. The quotes help flesh out the concept. Horizontal time is more linear, vertical time is past/present/future as one. Dulce (below) also references breathing in relation to absorption.
          I just looked Lewis Richmond up – I didn’t remember his name but he was Head of Practice at Green Gulch Farm, part of San Francisco Zen Center. SFZC was a sister zen center to the zen center I lived at years ago. I spent a few days at Green Gulch visiting friends in 1986 – they must know Richmond well. Maybe I will look into that book. Thanks, Penny!

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        • I think ‘horizontal time’ is just another term, and a good one, for right-here-and-now, remembering that we are literally only alive in this very instant and that this instant keeps unfolding before us, eternally alive-now. How interesting you have this cross-connection with the man — long ago I stumbled on a Kabat-Zinn book, and have rather fitfully continued reading in a cluster around that approach, those ideas. As I grow older, the application to age is of course of greater interest.

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  12. I like your introduction very much! You know I am interested in the meaining of words like you and I like the way you approach the topic here! Very interesting, the origin of absorb, the sound of the words and your own feelings. I like how you follow the meaning and your own doing. Also the difference or delimitation to the meaning of flow is interesting. In my opinion flow is connected more with joy and enthusiasm or passion. Absorption could be more grave or serious, could, not must. When I am in a flow at work I am often happy and eager for more. Being absorbed is more a focused, centred situation, a connection with something, a kind of meditation. With your introduction you started an interesting discussion here! Now to your photos:
    Wonderful pictures, all of them. The most beautiful is the feather. It hits me right into the heart. Somehow it is very touching in its beauty, breathtaking. I also love #5, but I can find something special in every picture. The mosses, the web, the landscapes, the kelp. I think you were really absorbed πŸ™‚

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    • I was worried that this might be difficult to get through for people who don’t have English as their first language, even if their English is very good. But I can see that you understood, that’s great. I can see what you mean by flow is more about joy and passion, that makes sense. And about the way absorption can but doesn’t have to be more serious. Good point! It’s very gratifying to see how many people have contributed their thoughts to this.

      In #5 the light was magical. I was so pleased to see the sun slanting through the forest that afternoon. The feather – well, lucky me I guess. It was very small and the day was wet and cloudy. I almost walked past it. Then I thought it was too dark to get a decent photo. But it was so tender and pretty there, so delicate against the rocks, especially when you think of the power of the water and waves pushing the tiny feather onto the shoreline in just that way. What I hope is that the photo has some emotional pull. There are thousands of photos of feathers and other little things covered in drops of water out there, made under perfect conditions with every last detail in perfect focus. I can’t compete with that but maybe this one has a little more feeling, maybe it’s a little less clinical. Your comment makes me think so. Thank you!

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      • The post was good to read and understand. I like the discussion here. There were many good points, interesting to read!
        The photo of the leave and the shadows is special. I like these special “light-moments” and you captured it so well. The same goes for the feather and it is wonderful. It IS perfect the way it is and it has an emotional pull. I don’t know what is so good about perfect conditions in the last detail. Sometimes I really miss the feeling. Your word clinical describes it well. Sometimes you have the feeling the photographer is busy with technic, but not with the moment and feelings. I prefer the other way πŸ™‚ And why should you compete anyway? It is a Lynn-picture, the way I like most πŸ™‚

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        • Exactly, many photographers are so busy getting the technical aspects right that they forget everything else. In a highly technological age like ours, emotion can easily get lost or be forgotten. There’s a lot of competition out there and you’re right, it’s not something I want to be a part of. But in some ways, you are automatically part of it, just by having your work online and publically accessible. In the end, what’s important? You summed it up perfectly. πŸ˜‰ Thank you!

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  13. I believe that the most concrete and objective way we have to understand the “degree of absorption” in any activity is to lose track of time and… an hour or a day seems like an instant. I would say that in these moments we are “body and soul”, that is, intensely present as matter/energy.
    It could be writing…making a drawing…taking pictures. etc., etc. Or just doing nothing.
    I would say it happens when we “breathe” what we are doing and what surrounds us, and naturally we dilute ourselves and be just One.
    Even in the profession this can happen… it has happened to me… but now it doesn’t happen anymore……
    What a beautiful set of images you offer us today! I believe that only someone who were fully and intensely present could capture them.
    Thank you for sharing such an interesting post.

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    • Yes, exactly! We lose all sense of time. I like the idea of being “body and soul” too – it’s not just an intellectual thing, is it? Even better, your idea of being intensely present as matter/energy – wow, I like that. Thank you, Dulce. Further, breathing what we are doing is another very good way of conveying the experience. If it doesn’t happen in your work anymore I hope it does still happen in your non-working life. I would be surprised if it didn’t!
      Thanks you for sharing such interesting feedback, Dulce, it’s a pleasure having this conversation with you.

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      • Yes, my current “absence ” has ONLY to do with the professional part. I’m really tired after almost forty-one years in the profession…and especially after my partner retired. There are so many things to do together!
        Obviously we make the most of what we can, but I still have two and a half years to work………..πŸ™„

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  14. Wow, the waterdrops on the feather in 13. can certainly absorb my observation for a while. I do think about how the associations we individually have with various words affects us and our communication with others. As an author I often get absorbed in word choice, considering the possibilities of what each candidate might convey to my readers. As a younger and less practiced writer I chose my favorite words and relished my own expression, but as I’ve matured in years/experience as well as in my craft, I am always looking for the one that will communicate most fully – at least hopefully. Ultimately, we never really know what another person gleans from our work unless they tell us. And even then we may attach a different meaning to their words.

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    • I think you’re the only person who picked up on that idea of our personal associations with certain words. It can get us into trouble, at least in terms of trying to communicate something important. Obviously, you’ve given it a lot of thought…and then there’s the gap between the creator and the reader/viewer, the gap that yawns or shrinks depending on many factors, some beyond our control. Maybe it’s easier with visual images than with writing – at some point, I worried less about how others perceived my images because I know it’s very subjective. But with writing, at least unless it’s poetry you want the reader to be following your train of thought to a degree. What do you think?

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      • I agree with writing more than other forms of art we’re reaching for a more accurate level of communicating. I think that’s why language developed in the first place. For one, along with language a canon of definitions is kept. There’s not really a dictionary for art in that same fashion though I suppose there’s somewhat of a canon of associations with types of line, form, color that’s taught in art schools. I suspect that the symbolic canon for art differs with various cultures according to their associations and experiences, though since more sensory that verbal language it might have more common ground?

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        • That’s a good point about the canon in language vs. anything like a canon in art, which would be a stretch. The idea of there being more commonality across cultures in the meaning of artistic symbols than there is for languages – I don’t know. Even if art is less abstract than language, I’d hesitate to subscribe to any system that assigned universal meanings to certain artistic expressions. Even basic colors like black and white have almost opposite meanings in different cultures, right? Maybe I just don’t like the idea. πŸ™‚ I like to think of celebrating differences in this regard more than finding sameness. In a parallel vein, I don’t agree with people who imagine there is a universal “god” or god-like entity in all spiritual traditions. I think that idea disregards what’s wonderful about human beings, our diversity. Wow, I’m speechifying, Sheri, sorry! πŸ˜‰

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        • I don’t take it as speechifying since you’re clearly stating it’s your opinion and I don’t feel you’re contradicting mine, just adding more thoughts. I have learned that colors can mean very different things in different cultures, but I think if you created a piece of artwork that portrayed an anguished moment of war, it would communicate that in most cultures more readily than if you wrote a poem about it. The elements would be more easily readable to a broader swath of humanity than word symbols. However our cultures relate to or interpret the visual world, it is somewhat common to all of us, so representational art would seem to contain fairly relatable symbols perhaps? It would certainly get more dicey as it became more abstracted. And there are definite ‘rules’ set by cultures and religions that would change interpretation, such as forbidden images like creating a human likeness in sects of Islam or nudes in certain circles of culture, etc.

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        • As far as one god or many, I personally don’t see that as a cultural diversity conflict since to me it’s the same to say there are many gods or there is one god energy but hugely diverse ways to experience and/or worship. Since my personal definition of god or gods is something much too large for us to truly fathom while mortal, any definition in relating to god is merely a part of the whole, and I’m fascinated by all the ways humanity seeks to explain or exemplify god or gods. My own relationship to god is deeply personal and spiritual, so I consider that the diversity of human beings relating to god is as intricate and multiple as the number of humans in existence. I hope that made sense. Basically I’m saying there’s room for your specified and defined concept of god as well as my universal one, and in my view they are not cancelled out by one another.

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  15. Your writing reminds me of Jason Silva’s speaking. Beautiful and engaging. The photographs are stunning as well. My favorite is the feather, such an unexpected beauty. Thank you for the contribution. Be well.

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    • Moving right along…Thank you, Alicia, and don’t worry about where the first comment landed – Gerhard is a good guy. πŸ˜‰
      I had to look up Jason Silva and thank you for the comparison, I appreciate that! The feather was very small and I almost walked right by it – I’m glad I saw it. We get lucky sometimes, right? Take care!

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  16. Good blog post BlueBrightly. I like the use of pictures to illustrate what you are conveying. Ad for me I get absorbed everyday by endless things such as being easily absorbed by movies, soccer, food, blogs, images and jargon words😁

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  17. Being absorbed, being in the zone, being fully immersed are all ways to describe this wonderful state photographers (and others) delight in! Your photos successfully show us your vision while in your absorbed state! I especially like the first and last … award winners!

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  18. Been a long while since I’ve read Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiπŸ€“πŸ‘Œyour photography is beautiful Lynn the colours and textures are breath taking πŸ€“πŸ™thanks for sharing…smiles from White Rock πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈhugs hedy

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  19. I loved this post, Lynn. Your research on the word is interesting and the concept is one I think about a lot with regard to artistic “flow”. It’s such a good feeling! And your images convey that feeling so perfectly. From your magnificent lead landscape image that speaks of waiting, watching, capturing. And your detail shots are so you in total absorption. The sand patterns, the framed rock, the leaf with the linear shadows, the web in sunlight, the pine cone and moss and the fabulous sparking feather…all so beautifully seen and framed. I am flowing right with you! Thanks. πŸ™‚

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    • It was slightly intimidating to choose images that illustrate the concept but I think it worked out. As you said, it’s a good feeling, one that we first experienced in childhood. I hope all’s well with you and the family. From heat to hail, what a crazy month it’s been there! enjoy your weekend!

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  20. “Whether it’s a small detail, a wide vista, or something in between, being absorbed in what I see is one of the best things about being human on this earth.”

    Thank you for these words. I love how you introduced the word ‘absorb’ into something that calls up the excitement of being alive. I agree with you. Small details should not be ignored. They are the foundation of all the big things we often capture in our lives. Love your photos!! πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

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    • Thank you very much, Justine, and thanks for taking the time to comment. Details have drawn me in since I was a small child. It’s always a pleasure being immersed in them. I hope you enjoy a few moments of absorption this weekend. πŸ™‚

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  21. I really enjoyed the topic and your examination of absorption. I’m working on a piece on alignment/timing that your words made me think of but there is a peace and freedom in absorption that you handled beautifully and I had not previously put thought into it. Thank you.

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    • That’s interesting, I’m glad this was useful to you. Peace and freedom – I like that, yes! It’s good to know the post sparked a new understanding or give you a new idea – what could be better than that? Have a good week!

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  22. ‘Whether it’s a small detail, a wide vista, or something in between, being absorbed in what I see is one of the best things about being human on this earth.’.. Well said, Lynn; total agreement! otherwise it’s chewing without tasting.. Next to ‘slurpen’, which definitely has to do with juices; there is also the word ‘opgaan in’ in the Dutch language. Literaly that means: ‘To go up in..’. When you fall in love; you loose yourself in the other, which is the best example of ‘opgaan in’ I can think of.. (and when you wake up, you are ‘one’; or you have a broken heart..).. πŸ™‚ Your essay about Absorption made me also think of magnets; two opposite poles drawn towards each other and it is not about the poles, but about the attraction between them; the connection. And the shots are fine, naturally.. See you!

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    • Thanks, Harrie, I like the idea of “opgaan in” a lot. And the magnet idea is another interesting way to think about being absorbed. May the force (of absorption) be with you! πŸ˜‰ Have a great week!

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  23. What an engaging post I actually went through the whole post and loved it. Pictures were awesome and the German word I didn’t understand lol. Because I don’t understand that.

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    • Thanks, Alison. I almost didn’t see the feather…rainy days can be good if the rain lets up a little. πŸ˜‰ It’s great to hear that you liked this collection – I never am quite sure what I’m going to put together until it gets underway. And you know, I think I’m beginning to get a sense of your aesthetic, too! πŸ˜‰ Have a good rest of your week!

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  24. β€œany time spent being absorbed in something is its own reward.” Too true. What a wonderful post. The photos are absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for sharing. πŸ™

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    • Well, thank you so much for leaving this lovely comment! I imagine you’ve been absorbed while in flight but you wouldn’t exactly want to get lost…
      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. Thank you again, and thanks for the follow!

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