Photography And The Search For Meaning

A most spectacular scene as the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river cuts its way through the rugged landscape downstream from the incredible Dettifoss Waterfall in  the Vatnajökulla National Park in Northeast Iceland.

My first overseas photographic expedition was during 1988. It included an overnight stay at Everest Base Camp, on the Tibetan side of the mountain.

Over the years l have undertaken a number of subsequent trips, often re-visiting the same places. It would seem to me that knowledge is influenced by experience and attitude and my understanding of a person, place or event changes as my life's experiences increase over time. Wisdom, therefore, can be said to be a cumulative experience.

Places Of Pilgrimage

Holy places attract notions of the sacred and the act of undertaking a pilgrimage seems to represent the search for personal identity and connection to something greater than ourselves. For the pilgrim, the degree of difficulty and danger traditionally associated with the journey was important in gaining merit from the process. A pilgrimage is as much about a process undertaken as it is about a journey, an arrival or an event.

The journey to Mecca, the site of the Hadj, is one of the world’s most widely known religious pilgrimages. Today, Mecca is not a fruitful and fertile valley, as it once was. Still, the city benefits and is sustained by the pilgrimage. I understand that the Hadj is a joyous occasion where devotes, all equal before the face of God, come, maybe only once in their lifetime, to connect, in a special way, with their god.

The Purpose Of The Journey

Traditionally, such an undertaking provided the pilgrim with a certain detachment from everyday life, allowing for a type of spiritual connection. The pilgrimage presented a kind of outer journey which, in turn, allowed for a more personal, progressive step towards enlightenment.

Today, with travel easier than ever before, the pilgrim need endure less physical hardship than in the past. As a consequence, more importance is now placed on the destination, rather than the journey. Indeed, for many, the sacrifice may now be associated more with financing the airfare, and not from the toils and potential dangers of a long and difficult trail.

The Value Of Travel

I once heard it said that, “If you walk only on sunny days, you’ll never reach your journey’s end”. This seems a good metaphor for life. Given that our life’s purpose is to understand our place in this world, the very reason for our existence, it would seem reasonable that while sunny days present the world in a good light, we learn more about ourselves through adversity.

I believe that paradise and hope are both earthy notions, which we carry with us, wherever we go. It might be that hope exists only in the journey where, in the beginning, everything is possible, every aspect, every dream. With the destination subordinate to the journey, the search for meaning is a continuous process.

I hope you’ll delve deeper into this site and continue to journey back for information, inspiration and insights that will help you along your own, individual creative journey. In the meantime please feel free to share this post widely and wildly.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru