Back in my 20s, one of my best friends, Jessica, dated an older man (in his 30s!!) who intimidated me with how wise he seemed. He was quite lovely to my friend Jess (although they really weren't suited for each other -- she ended up marrying her true soul mate a few years later), and when she introduced me to him, I was struck by how gentle he was: with her, with me, and really, with everyone around him. Despite the fact that I wasn't entirely comfortable around him, I had to admit I quite liked him. He was just ... kind.
One night, the three of us were sitting in a coffeehouse, and he remarked at how animated I always seemed.
"Do you ever sit still?" he asked, amused.
"Well, of course," I said, barely keeping the defensiveness out of my voice (and suspecting I was lying a bit). "Of course I do."
"No, I mean, just sit. You know, like quietly, just stilling your thoughts. Like ... I dunno, lighting a candle, and staring into the flame for 10 minutes. Emptying your mind."
I glanced at Jessica, hoping to see in her face whether he was joking or not. She just smiled.
"Um ... well ... no ..." I stammered. "I mean, just sit, staring at a candle? I don't think so ..."
"You should try it sometime," he said, with kind eyes. "It would really change your life. A little calm is good. It's good for everyone."
At the time, as much as I liked him, I thought he might have been a bit crazy -- I mean, who has time to sit and stare at a candle for 10 minutes? It sounded a bit lazy, to me.
Since then, I've come to understand meditation a bit better, and for a while, was an avid practitioner -- not with a candle, but definitely a daily practice of simply being still, up to 30 minutes at a time. (I still do it, but not with the frequency and intensity that I have in the past). There's no question that when I'm focused about doing it, I'm much calmer in my day-to-day life. But you know, it was easier when I was single ... now with a family, and work and everything else, it's just more difficult.
Whenever I have to do a shoot for work, I have a few lenses that I never leave home without: my 50mm lens is a given, for portraits, or simply as my throw-down, go-to lens; and obviously my 16-35mm lens for landscape or wide-angle shots is invariably with me, as well. If I find myself traveling to a place where the opportunity to photograph a lion or two might arise, the 70-200mm zoom lens comes along for the ride. But the lens that usually stays home is my 60mm macro lens. It's rare that I'm going to have the time or the inclination to shoot anything from mere inches away.
Ah, but when I'm home ...
... when I'm home, my macro lens is the one that forces me to slow down and really look. This is the lens that makes me sit for a moment, and contemplate the details. This is the lens that makes me slow my breathing, to make sure that I get the focus just right.
This is my meditation lens.