Chacune de ces photos peut provenir de n’importe quelle ville du monde. Et c’est triste.
However I feel and wherever I am, I try to find solitude. It’s a quiet that renews me because I can be myself. Solitude encourages me not only to reflect, but to jettison the ill-feelings of comparisons and expectations. The Rolling Stones, rock classic, Satisfaction, is so very telling:
“…When I’m watchin’ my TV and a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me…”
I’m not equating isolation with solitude, as the former suggests being devoid of sensory inputs. No, this is about a mindfulness that keeps at bay the disquiet of our modern life. Turn off the radio, the TV, the podcast, et al. Though it may be easier–if all too obvious–to find solitude when completely alone, that is unnecessary. Solitude can manifest itself anywhere. Don’t you find solitude at a social event [even at work] when you can momentarily remove yourself to a space that doesn’t invade your thinking and feeling? Step away, even for a moment, to find some quiet, some calm, some level of respite.
We’ve yielded to wanting impressions that don’t add genuine value to our sense of self: number of likes, tweets, comments, “friends”, postings and so forth. Allow yourself to be your own best company.
My take on this may seem like a cop-out, but choosing one over the other because it’s “more real” doesn’t resonate with me. The interpretation of any photograph is highly personal, so regardless of an image presented in B&W or color–or combinations of both–what you feel makes the image real.
Some days, I see and feel things that tell me to shoot B&W. Similarly, it goes the other direction where my sensitivities lean to color, even one particular color.
Yet these images can confound the entire argument because of my resolute commitment to personally see or find things that prompts a connection. Are these photographs less real because of my choice in isolating or selecting an object, shape, color or theme?
Much of human history is peppered with a notion that when we don’t understand the unknown, we become defensive, fearful and hesitant. Granted the opposite is also true; we can become bold, curious and willing to take a chance. There’s a dichotomy between assumptions and reactions. The sentiments in the plaque attest to these notions. Just where you straddle this dichotomous line depends on how you define yourself.
A commencement address given a few years ago might shed some light on my post. It was delivered by Tim Minchin, an alum of the University of Western Australia. His career path is one created by an awareness for all things sentient. Minchin reminds me of my own college journey in liberal arts; I found such great value in what and how you feel in terms of art, music, literature, philosophy and all those disciplines of study that pre-dated this notion that mindfulness and empathy and emotional intelligence are somehow new constructs of our modern, western world.
In his comments, his last 3 points made in impression of sorts:
#7) define yourself with what you love, not what you hate; #9) respect people with less power than you, and #9) don’t rush…
Are you leaning more to one side or the other of that dichotomous line…?
Yes, all rivers have a right and left bank. Some of the most famous of river banks can be found in Paris: the Seine.
The banks of the Connecticut River doesn’t have the inimitable splendor of its cousin in France. However, both waterways are remarkable for a myriad of reasons, some similar; but I suspect the majority of those things remarkable are marked by differences in history and appeal.
Vive la différence!
Ten years ago, author Malcolm Gladwell published his book, Outliers, a NY Times Bestseller. In his book, Mr. Gladwell posited that to master a specific skill, a total of 10,000 hours is required. That’s the milestone to accomplish being the best, “to accomplish greatness” according to the author.
But once again, “greatness” and “the best” have varying metrics. Is any of this based on earnings? On the number of gold medals? The number of championships [world or otherwise]? Metrics do have a place, certainly, but winning cannot be everything.
If there is a dark side to marketing it’s this notion that aside from the hours required, you also need equipment, supplies et al of equal or higher quality. Marketing promotes aspirational consumption: if I have the best ______, then I have a better chance of becoming the best.
No….10,000 hours is an unreasonable expectation. Predictably, no one denies consistent practice is mandatory in order to reach a given standard or goal [especially your own]. However, my own “rule” is far simpler: give it your best and know it was your best. Save some time to enjoy other things in Life.