How do you define—and use—your “15-Minutes”?

Sometime in the future, we’ll have 15-minutes of fame. Attributed to Pop Artist, Andy Warhol.

 

Fifteen: __seconds is a quarter of a minute; __minutes is a quarter of an hour; __miles is 24 kilometers; __kilometers is 9 miles. I think the most “famous” of 15s is the one attributed to Warhol. He may not have actually phrased it, but it’s certainly part of his cultural brand.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame is also a music project created by composer-producer, Robert Voisey. That, in and of itself, is a fascinating enterprise.

Sir Richard Branson defines his 15-minutes as “me time,” time he finds in each day exclusively for himself in order to reconnect, re-energize, refocus, etc.

What can you do with 15-minutes all to yourself?  Some suggestions:

  • Write: in a journal [or start one]; a letter [to yourself, to someone that means the world to you, to someone who can influence positive changes, e.g.]; 15 words that bring a smile to your face
  • Learn and/or try: a new language [or improve on one that you last used in school or college]; to play an instrument; the practice of Yoga, meditation or Tai Chi; something, anything that you’ve wanted to explore, but it’s just out of your comfort zone
  • Turn your electronics off: and go outside and listen, engage your other senses of smell, touch, taste and sight

Reward yourself with a good thought, whatever that might be, and dwell on its possibilities…

 

Totalitarian Sentiments

 

Creating confluence, understanding & compromise 101. Photo: C. Centeno

We have met the enemy and they are us.  Circa 1960s: Walt Kelly from his comic strip, Pogo, in reference to the US involvement in Vietnam. The phrase is a variation from Naval Commander Oliver Hazard Perry whom, in the late 1790s said, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Our sociological positions on culture, tolerance, honest communication, integrity, decorum and humility have fallen to new lows. Some of us—in particular those with the loudest and most obstinate of postures and voices—have created as well as promoted an intractable reality that has altered our ability and willingness to freely express our thoughts and feelings across many subjects.

Fueled by emotion, group think, individual perceptions and more, it’s become de rigueur to put someone down [shouting, shaming, name calling, e.g.] just to make a point. What concerns me is while someone can possibly make a point, the counterpoint is summarily dismissed. Its dismissal is total, a product of a scorched earth mentality that leaves no room for perspective, for critical thinking and even a chance, however small, to understand the meaning of the counterpoint let alone the person or persons expressing the counterpoint.

We not only agree to disagree, but we do so in disagreeable fashion. We create diatribe instead of discussion, insults in lieu of perspectives, bombast as proper elocution.

I leave you to ponder on William Faulkner:

“I believe that humankind will not merely endure: we will prevail. We are immortal, not because we alone among creatures have an inexhaustible voice, but because we possess a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

Processing engagements

During a recent trip to Old Sturbridge Village, I came upon this roped-off exhibit of a beautiful, portable, writing desk with written pages fanned across its top. I imagined how the owner and writer of those materials may have looked like. This gentleman seemed to fit the bill.

I can appreciate the time and effort it takes to hand-write many things. I’m at odds with my peers, being one who cherishes writing [letters, journaling, e.g.] with a fountain pen no less. It does require your attention. The efficiency of computers is a boon to creating content, from tweets to long essays and dissertations. The use of all types of computers is standard for our developed societies.

But why do we need to process things so quickly? It’s a rhetorical question, certainly, but not without practical considerations. We marvel at how fast technology processes both the simple and the very complex. However, you lose [at least for me] that joie de vivre of the moment. Being attentive in the moment is quite different from being momentarily attentive.

And I see too much of this momentary attentiveness in many. How so? In a restaurant, you can see some couples more attentive to their smart phones than each other. In parks, in museums, in the lobbies of theatres, offices and yes, even in our cars, the siren of that handheld is overwhelming. The device in our hand responds quickly, in “real” time, then with a thumb stroke, we’re onto another screen for something else.

For me though, I feel better connected when I’m engaged with just about any process that requires a bit more attention, time and effort. Yes, I admit an app can make things easier and interesting. But for me, the process of being engaged and attentive to tasks and to processing information just isn’t the same when a person is with me.

Wanderings 3

When I explore the innumerable streets that span New York City, I give credit to serendipity for many encounters. When the camera comes up, or when my pen touches a page in my journal, often the actions are fueled by some gut feeling or a touch to one of my senses.

Case in point: this festival of color had a prequel in music. The rthymic sounds of drums, a bass, a trumpet and the chimes of triangles caught my attention. The music sounded Indian. At any rate, a parade of vibrant hues and colors that were part of a very large wedding suddenly appeared from behind a gate.

Certainly this wouldn’t be New York if we didn’t have any juxtaposition to further entertain us. This mural by “Boxhead” channels Rene Magritte, but its appearance in the first photo makes for an intriguing study in contrasts.

Wanderings 2

According to noted author, Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc, “we wander for distraction and travel for fulfillment.” I suppose combining both then becomes photography. There are distractions that are worth photographing and there’s a sense of fulfillment when I travel. It could be far flung or just around the corner. In either case, both distractions and fulfillment find a place in what you see, hear, feel and smell during your promenades.

“It’s Hip to be Square”

With respect to Huey Lewis and the News for their song of the same title—and to rebels, romantics and nonconformists of my generation—photographers have long known of the practical beauty of a square image. It’s symmetrical and requires no effort to turn a camera to a vertical position, then back again to horizontal.

The square is neither in landscape nor portrait mode. It just is.

Innocuous

Photography and writing—as in life—consists of details small and large. When I tote my camera, I’m alert to details that shape the so called “big picture.”  It’s easy to get caught up in the bigger items [buildings, cars, trees, signage, e.g.] while things far smaller [cracks in the sidewalk, flowers, bird on a wire, e.g.] are thought of as incidentals to the place and moment I’m in.

But now and then, I tell myself to pay attention to details that are inconspicuous as well as innocuous. Such details remind me that in my own life, bigger, faster, more costly, etc. is not always better…