For the past 100 years in early Autumn, the Eastern States Exposition puts on a show affectionately known as, The Big E. For about 2 weeks, visitors can lose themselves in entertainment, food & drink; wander the Midway complete with all things that say “carnival;” explore hundreds of exhibits and competitions that focus on the demanding work in farming, the raising & caring for livestock & poultry and more, much more. The Big E is one of the country’s largest fairs. I enjoy it for many reasons, but my fascination goes to the hundreds of food vendors on the grounds, especially when their booths light up the night.
On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson
For me, one of the better ways to decrease the clutter in my head is to take a drive with camera in tow. Road photography. It should be a category of its own. Sometimes I have a location in mind, mostly I don’t. Where the road leads and the sun moves are my travel indicators. I chase the light, I welcome serendipity and I relish the freedom that time brings. Driving the back roads—especially those off the major interstates—offer catharsis. It works.
Road photography. It’s a cousin to street photography, but instead of strolling along sidewalks, I’m in a car driving to nowhere in particular, just to immerse myself in a tempo and ambiance that has little to do with work. At times I also take along my journal and if nothing arouses my visual creativity, I take the pen to the paper…or vice-versa.
Not quite summer’s end, not really autumn yet, but the cusp that enjoins these 2 seasons is before us. I love this time of year.
Naumkeag is an incredible place because it allows me to dwell on and feel connected to matters taken for granted. There’s time and space to slow down, to think, to feel, to recognize that not all issues, concerns or problems are of utmost importance above anything or anyone else. Naumkeag is a sanctuary where the main characters are pastoral. The lead character has to be the quiet, the kind of quiet that tells us there is catharsis in solitude for the benefit of oneself.
There are many distractions, including things that are not here. Out of sight—out of mind: no tablets, no MP3 players, no traffic sounds be they from land or air. Space is one of several pleasant distractions, especially those spaces that encourage you to become part of the setting.
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.