words + photographs by Sandra Shih Tonkinson
Sfumato translated from Italian into English means soft or blurred. Peter Fisk, author of Creative Genius, sees it as a “willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.” Mystery arises from this outer-inner tension, between light and darkness.
Peter goes on to quote Leonardo da Vinci:
Light is the chaser away of darkness. Look at light and consider its beauty. Blink your eye and look at it again, what you see was not there at first, and what was there is no more. Leonardo da Vinci
Our perception shifts in different light. How we see a situation is seen through the filter of who we are, how we feel, what we have experienced…How much light we embody and how much darkness we have uncovered.
Sitting with uncertainty is not usually a comfortable feeling; it is a necessary practice. The more we open ourselves to new experiences, surrender to new insights, the more we can welcome uncertainty as a teacher.
Recently I strolled through the area around the museum at National University of Singapore. Empty of crowds unlike many places in Singapore, it was a relaxing and quiet visit. It was my first time there during the day, giving me a chance to explore the buildings and see how glass, concrete, and nature contrasted and highlighted each other. We can see many variations in nature and the juxtaposition of greenery and concrete can also be beautiful and stimulating.
The quiet. The new. Getting slightly lost. Letting the mind wander. Allowing the superfluous to disengage. Getting clarity.
So often seeing something new demands our attention in a way that our usual way of thinking and responding becomes obvious, and maybe even glaringly limited. Stretching outside of our comfort zone allows us to lean into ourselves more honestly.