There are a lot of ways to define distortion but the one that makes the most sense for the contemplative photographer is:
a lack of proportionality in an image resulting from defects in the optical system.
"Defects in the optical system"....you can read that as defects in the way we regard the world around us. If our vision was blurry or we all of a sudden saw double, we would rush to the optometrist and get ourselves a pair of glasses! But it seems we are content to let our distorted perceptions influence our images. Seeing clearly is seeing without distortion and that is a skill that must be nurtured over time. Time may be one of the things that inhibits our ability to see clearly. When we are in a rush, when we skip from place to place, we see only the superficial. To see clearly and without distortion, we need to sit still for awhile and let it all sift through our conscious mind. It is what contemplative photographs strive for...clear, undistorted perception. We judge and edit and define everything we look at. One of my favorite sayings is:
"It is what it is...and it's all good."
I mean that quite literally. That phrase keeps everything in proportion for me. I am never disappointed by what I find in the landscape...it is all meaningful and important and relevant to my contemplative practice. There are no unworthy places to photograph. When we truly accept that then we have eliminated on major distortion in our perception, that of worthiness.