I've come to realize I have a physical response to truth.
When something strikes me as fundamentally pure, truthful, soulful, brave, or kind, I get chills. Teary-eyes. My heart skips a beat.
My son, in one exaggerated swoop of his arm, wipes a pile of papers onto the floor. When I exasperatedly ask, "WHY???!" he blinks at me, genuinely confused.
"I don't know why," he says, and I believe him.
The pureness of his honesty makes my heart stumble.
Waiting in the grocery line, I overhear a man boasting about his granddaughters. His love is pure and palpable; the tears in my eyes are, too.
A confidante shares a "secret" that has been poisoning her insides for forty years. I get chills - not because her secret is remotely juicy (group therapy has taught me that secrets are mostly only juicy to their keepers) - my arm hairs stand to attention because of the pureness of her courage.
Perhaps these sensations are not just reactions to truth - perhaps they are my body's way of telling me when I have seen a glimpse of a person's soul.
I have seen their soul and I am touched.
I've heard it said that people today have keen noses for B.S. (we can smell a rat from a mile away)--but I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for how perceptive we are in recognizing GOODNESS, too.
Our bodies have a sense for when things are pure and true. They are reliable and consistent sources of guidance; it's just up to us to pay attention.
I know I haven't been paying enough attention.
Of course I've known that my eyes water a lot, but I've never stopped to think, why am I getting chills in this moment? Why did I just skip a breath?
What is my body trying to tell me?
When somebody does something courageous or selfless or honest or good and we get chills, that's the universe's way of saying, "Did you see that? That was good. See how it gives you goosebumps? You are connected to that. You are good too. Go that way. Do more things like that. You are not alone."
This is why, when a twice-bereaved father runs towards the explosions in Boston to pinch between his fingers the severed arteries of a man whose legs have been blown off, our entire nation vibrates at a higher level.
We are one with that cowboy-hat-wearing Patriot. His fiber is our fiber. We are capable of that valor.
We get chills when we see him because God/Universe/Spirit is telling us: "Go that way. Be like that."
We are also one with the man in the wheelchair who is shocked and afraid. If we can see ourselves in him, then we, like him, have no choice but to be valiant in the face of our fears.
Isn't it remarkable how much soul can come through a photograph?
When an image captures the essence of a person, I inhale sharply. My eyes water. I get chills. Not because it is beautiful - many photos are beautiful - but because it is true.
As a photographer, I have no interest in taking a photo of what a person or a scene "looks like." Taking that kind of picture requires zero talent. It is boring and unremarkable.
I have even less interest in photographing who a person wants to pretend to be. I spent far too many years thinking I had to be someone I wasn't in order to be lovable; if you want a contrived or "perfect" or super-posed photo, please find somebody else to take it.
Pretense makes me shiver.
When I push the shutter on my camera, my goal is to create a photograph--not of what my subject looks like, but of who my subject is. It's no easy task, because people generally feel uncomfortable with a lens in their face, but--quite frankly--bringing out who YOU ARE in a photo is my enjoyable challenge and my specialty.
I catch your light and I show it to you.
I aim to show you that your truth--your soul--your ESSENCE is extraordinarily, vibrantly, and wildly beautiful.
Because that, my friend, is the God's Honest Truth.
I'm currently running a photography special: $470 worth of photos and services for only $165. Details here!
FYI, I changed the name of my photography business. I now operate as Bethany O Photography.