How often do we catch ourselves lingering on past events with a melancholic obsession? We task ourselves with carrying the baggage of emotional hurt like an armor that only keeps us from moving forward. The way forward is lighter, freer and leaves no room for old heavy anchors.
Day 61 of 365~
Image taken in Siena, Italy of a beautiful soul who humored my experimentations with long exposure and ghosting. July 2012
Every once in a while I meet an incredible human, and they remind me that aging is a natural process that only claims our physical body. The spirit is always effervescent if we allow it to be, the soul is only more experienced and our mind can only grow richer if we feed it in the right way. This lady I met this morning, early at sunrise was giggling while doing her morning exercise and very proudly telling my friends and I that she is 85 years old and still feels young and full of energy. She was infectious in her enthusiasm and bright spirit, light as a feather and innocent as a small child. She renewed my hope in life and its beauty and easily added herself to my list of unforgettable people.
On a planet of over 7 billion people, we end up connecting with a minute fraction of humans throughout our lives. The parents we are born to, the family around us, the friends we make at school, the spouses we end up with and a handful of others along the way. Is any of it destined? Do events lead us to meet who we were meant to meet or is it all random? Do certain people sing our tune? Is chemistry involved? Are there invisible silver threads between us and a few others?
Another piece fo the fascinating puzzle we call human life…
I once met a 90 year old artist during a conference I attended in Colorado, a beautiful lady in every way. I remember looking at her after speaking for a while about her art, passion and love of life, and I asked : “how does it feel being so old?”
I never forget the surprise in her eyes when she answered: “old? I am not old!!”
She explained that every day when she looks in the mirror she is shocked again and again at the body looking back at her and that she finds her young spirit inhabiting. She said inside she is just the same person who fell in love for the first time, who learned how to swim, ride the bicycle, who enjoyed eating ice cream, reading books, painting, running…
And she was so right… Don’t we all feel that same thing in the moments when we don’t let ourselves surrender to the gloom and fear of getting old? Inside each one of us is a child who still wants to live, love and marvel at the world around us if we let it.
I love it so much when people make a strong enough impression on us to make us remember them for the rest of our lives.
Thank you beautiful 90 young lady, who would be 115 now, roaming around the universe smiling, living, loving and giggling…
A friend told me recently that when they see photos of children from countries like Cambodia, they cannot help but see the difference between their eyes and the eyes of western raised children.
This is so true. And what is it about eyes? They are the first thing we meet normally in a person, the first thing we seek to connect to when we want to know someone. They seem to be a doorway or gateway of some kind.
Love needs the eyes to pass its messages. Most of us remember getting chills when we looked into the eyes of someone we loved for the first time and held their gaze. We often say we felt something pass between our eyes and our loved one’s eyes.
The eyes hold power and can transfer that power to another person quite easily. They can do what the voice cannot. Their message is deeper and much more subtle.
You can tell so much about a person from the way their eyes “act”. If you watch the show “lie to me”, you may be fascinated by the stories eyes can reveal. Eyes that shy away from yours, eyes that stare you down with determination, shifty eyes, blinking eyes, eyes that don’t blink, piercing eyes, shallow eyes…
And yes, there is a huge difference between the look and power in the eyes of the children I met in Cambodia or in Congo and the eyes of our western children. The stories this girl’s eyes told me went soul deep and were desperate to be told. Eyes that saw too much and want to tell it because it is just too much to bear.
This is a little girl that has to sell to survive, has to learn a few words of English to be able to communicate with the strange “rich” tourists, hoping to charm them into buying so she and her parents can have rice for the week. Her play time is cut short. Her innocence is hijacked. Of course her eyes are not the same. How could they be?
After coming back home from my trip to Congo, I keep going back in my mind to the thought of what the camera really captures. It is strange how many cultures believe truly that a photograph can capture part of their soul, and so they hesitate to let you photograph them for fear of losing part of themselves in that process. I wonder about the truth of that, because the more I look at those faces in the photos, the more I feel a strong connection to something inside of those children. It reaches deep and stirs so many feelings in me that cause me to relive the moment that I met them and the moment that photo was taken.
I love photography for that reason, to be able to reconnect to a special moment, where I can see, feel, smell and experience the elements that moved me to take the photo in the first place. Yes, for sure the soul of that moment is captured in a photo. At least it is a trigger for my soul to relive the experience and be with it again, because that is how life changing and important it was to me.
When I took this photo I was walking in the long corridor of the temple of heaven in Beijing, a place always on my priority list while here because of the state it forces me into. Every time I ever visited the temple of Heaven, I was met with a contagious state of well being, a relaxed place in myself where time was not worried about taking a break and stopping. People sang there, played cards, acted out Beijing Operas, played with their children, slept or simply just sat there alone enjoying the serenity.
This old man had the “haunting look” I often search for in a stranger’s face. The look that makes you stop, lock eyes, and find peace.