Have you felt lately as though you keep on moving from one task to the next, from one place to another as if chased by your own shadow? It is as if we are all gripped by a fear of being caught standing still. We plan our year before it even starts and we project into our future leaving very little room for the unexpected. Our lives are preplanned and dictated in our phones that link to all our other devices that we allow to remind us that we are not free but bound inside our own self created prisons.
There is a moment, a split second, when you are with your camera in the streets, and a moment you were hoping for surrenders itself to you. I am referring to that brief time before your subject has a time to react to your lens. I love that magical click that finds the person inside of their essence; a line of connection between you, the lens and the person.
As the holidays approach fast, I dedicate my post today to those who work harder than most, who see no retirement day in their near future, and who bear the weight of life and the passing of years. They are all around us, patching up the holes in our social structure, tirelessly moving because stopping is not an option.
Anonymia, Greek for nameless, the state of us urban dwellers to each other. This suggests that our names define us and and who we have become in so many different ways. Being a stranger in the big city can be so comforting to those of us who opt for this lifestyle. We can be who we want to be if we choose to; those that don’t know us cannot fix us with their preconceptions, and this gives us room to grow and to change if we are so inclined.
Yes, it might be time for a name change…
We face the world day after day, week after week, we get shuffled around in lines, into cars, buses and trains, we get bombarded with information and visual stimuli; and the only thing that keeps us sane is the inner sanctum of our lives. We manage to keep parts of us hidden somewhere deep inside, guarded, protected and fortified. In public we wear our outside face, the one we save for the daily battle.
Our inner lives just wait for us to take them to a forest, a beach, a walk in nature, just to have a moment out of confinement, a break from our self-created prisons.
Have you ever been lost in the process of your art? Have you ever visited that place where time stands still and you are transported on the wings of creativity? So much peace attends this state and it is a wonderful gift to be in the presence of its happening.
In a world of texting, emailing, and ‘elf yourself’ video cards sent around for Christmas, it is so amazingly soothing to go back to basic crafts and to spend hours cutting, coloring, gluing and handwriting Christmas cards for loved ones. I suspect that as we speed into the future, taking the time to be invested in hand-made craft projects will be a thing of the past, when most things as we know them would be mass-produced and the charm of uniqueness lost forever. The last two days, we took the time, we played Christmas songs, created cards, ate cookies and had lovely long conversations. Another memory for the treasure box.
How often do I catch myself walking in the city with my eyes down watching the pavement and the flow of faceless people passing by. The city can do that to us, it can make us reduce humanity to a flow of bodies passing by, forgetting that each one of them has a story, a life and a face.
No matter what books you read, what stories you hear, and what preconceptions you may have, nothing ever prepares you for the moment when your child is born.
Everyone has their story from the magical to the confronting and mine was a mixture of both. For years before, I had been chasing and building my career in a very aggressive manner and I looked at jobs as something to conquer and when one did not suit me, to have to the confidence to just drop it and move to the next. With this state of mind I waltzed into my pregnancy thinking it was just another task to win at. And then she was born.
All my preconceived ideas came crumbling in one big heap. I realized that nothing is as I thought. This job will be for life. There are no options for quitting, no turning back, no chance at slacking, and the responsibility of it was just mind-boggling. It was like joining a secret parent cult that no one warns you about.
If there is magic in life, then this is where it lives where I am concerned. Watching a life grow, evolve, develop and become the human it is meant to be.
The honor of being entrusted with the care of another human is the greatest honor of all.
Today, with this post, I begin my third 365 photography and writing project.
Each time I start a new walk into one of the old alleys of Shanghai, I feel as though I am entering another world where simple life, community feeling, tradition and open communication thrive. There is a charm to the old alleys and a distinct sense of nostalgia that makes them so attractive and keeps me coming back. As long as they are there, the spirit and essence of Shanghai continue to live on.