This morning I was driving my daughter to her weekend Chinese class and we had a very interesting conversation. She was complaining about her inability to always find interest in continuing to learn Chinese whilst living in Germany and this took us to musings about the human brain and how we, humans have so much unused potential. It has been said that humans only use 10% of the brain capacity and once we push and struggle to learn new things, we are perhaps activating otherwise dormant wirings in our brain and faculties. She became very interested in the process and walked to the class with a spring in her step.
Day 68 of 365~
image is a composite of a wall in Hong Kong and a closeup portrait of my daughter.
In Hongkou, part of the old city of Shanghai, was a set of grey narrow alleys that were a maze of tiny streets containing 2 or 3 story homes stacked side by side in a most claustrophobic manner. Hundreds of tangled electric wires dangled between walls that were decorated with phone numbers advertising services for those who needed them. Water flowed down the streets and bikes and colorful laundry colored the otherwise shabby surroundings. In those sad alleys I met some very happy people. Their smiles instantly appeared when we met and stories were told that I only understood partly because of my poor grasp of Shanghainese but laughter was the largest part of the conversation. I just loved that place and I kept going back again and again to photograph until one day the residents announced that their neighborhood is condemned to demolition like so many other old Shanghai alleys. The last time I visited there were metal foundations of giant about to rise from the stories of these lovely people. I had to fight back tears seeing the ghosts of what used to be there and is no longer…
Day 67 of 365~
Image taken in the old alleys of Hongkou, 2014
If we were asked to recall the events of the last 5 minutes, we can play them back in our minds where they are recorded almost perfectly. Then if we were asked that same question a year later, all details become blurry and most of the story is lost. Why is that? Why do memories fade? Is it by design? Or did something go wrong along our line of evolution?
Day 63 of 365~
Image taken back in 2012, in Shanghai, China
When faced with a hot issue in the world like guns and the recent school shooting, it is a good idea to look at the simple facts. What are guns? Why do we have them? How did it all begin?
The simple truth is that they are human fashioned killing machines. That is their sole purpose, a metal object designed to project at strong speed another metal object with the purpose of puncturing the body of another human or animal and to cause injury or death. That simple fact should halt all arguments about having them with children, near children or having them at all.
I listen the news about Syria and all the children that died in the least week to benefit a recent group of arms dealers who benefit each time there is conflict and who thrive from the misery of the less fortunate. They try to romanticize the issue and muddle it so we won’t comprehend, but it is very simple, isn’t it?
Power, greed, wealth and the personal need for self gratification without counting any cost.
Day 55 of 365~
Image taken in a back alley in Shanghai, China
It has been said that the chains that bind us are mostly self-manufactured by our own self-esteem and pride. Personal development is an uncomfortable journey upward and into the unknown, if only we dare.
Day 54 of 365~
Image taken in the entrance to the old tea house in Kashgar, Xinjiang
They arrive to this earth relying on our coded ability to host them as they take human form. They are born tiny and helpless and it is up to us to support, care for and nurture them till they can care for themselves. They carry in them the promise and possibility of a better tomorrow. They are our most valuable assets. Why can’t we all put their wellbeing before that of wealth, power and greed?
Day 53 of 365~
Image taken of a child in the old streets of Kashgar, Xinjiang
Somewhere life goes on, just simply, disconnected from our worldwide web. When you have the universal web of sky, sun, stars and earth, why would you downgrade to the contaminated world of Social media?
Day 52 of 365~
Image taken on the Karakoram Highway, old silk road, Xinjiang.
Is there something that allows you to live life more passionately? Do you find yourself doing something regularly that you cannot not do and it makes time as you know it stretch, fly by or completely come to a halt? Is there a place inside your world that only you hold the key to? Because only when you find your art do you truly know real passion. Don’t you love watching a musician lost inside their music, a dancer moving as if in a trance or a cook absolutely absorbed in what they are creating?
Inside of that magical world of real art there is little room for boredom, lethargy, competition or ego. Inspiration, satisfaction, happiness and the right kind of struggle seem to resonate with it.
That is the world I want to live in if I can be so lucky.
Image of a young boy who loved music and created a self made instrument of wood and string. I met him in 2011 in the old beautiful city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang, China
Isn’t every moment a step further into the unknown? We think we know where we are going, we have it all planned out, then life reminds us of the futility of our false certainty. I welcome the unknown, I want to live in the joy of discovery, to be surprised by life, to meet the future with an open mind.
I took these images today at the amazing James Turrell exhibit in Shanghai.