Good morning to you from Germany. How shall we start this?
I have been planning for a while to restart my 365 project that I did in the past and loved immensely: a picture and a short writing every day for one year, and today felt like the right day to begin.
Its’ the first day our home tradition of exchanging 24 small gifts before Christmas and for this, my daughter has always woken up very early to see what awaits her. There are 24 small boxes that contain 24 small gifts and thoughts of care about her and she has grown to love that.
This year, she gifted me one back, and now I can smile knowing that the tradition will carry on…
Today’s dwellings are in and around time. Stories of our lives follow a time line running through today between yesterday and tomorrow. As much as we want to touch and be in tomorrow it is always out of reach today. And so is every story incomplete because time carries it through to tomorrow. The human story never really ends does it?
After about a 4 hour flight from Shanghai to Kunming in Yunnan and sorting out the small inevitable complications like changing cars, drivers, lunch and settling everyone to a journey of unexpected events, we set off to our first stop on the workshop, the town of Shiping.
After a first night not short of adventure and discovery in the streets of the old town, we set off in the morning with the freedom one gets after leaving a questionable hotel without having to look back.
All packed, cameras charged, armed with snacks and water bottles we set off only to discover that our bus (that we grew to love) had a flat tire. We were informed that the repairs will take longer than expected. When asked why, the answer was “people in these parts are just not efficient enough”. I swallowed the answered and decided to make the best of a bad situation.
I invited everyone to use the 2 hours to explore and we found ourselves in an unforgettable market! Photo opportunities everywhere, people, children, faces, color, it was wonderful.
During the time there, I was utterly charmed by a group of children who followed me around jumping, giggling, acting silly, jumping into every frame I tried to create. It then dawned in me that the best thing to do would be to just stop trying and instead of capture life, just live it. I played with them and my students photographed them and the whole affair was effervescent and a special gift to start the journey with.
It is wonderful to be reliving the adventure in Honghe through the stories and images as I busily plan the next one in Dali this coming June.
I was walking in an old street in Shanghai with my camera taking in all the sights, smells and noises of the crowded narrow lanes when an unusual sight drew me in. I looked inside a smoky large room packed with rickety tables, chairs, tea pots, and men in hats, so many men in hats. I walked in and after I stopped being looked at as the stranger in the village, I began to be approached by the curious of the gathered men. Each wanted to tell me stories, because this is what we humans do, we carry our his-story with us, in our minds, our hearts, etched on our faces and we long to tell them and to pass them on before we leave, so that parts of us can stay behind and make an indelible mark. I listened and tried my best to comprehend, but the best story this man can tell is written all over his face and I present it to you here in this frozen moment…
You always hear stories of people on their deathbeds wishing they had said this or that to a loved one, wished they had expressed an emotion to someone that they know they should have, and wished that they would be allowed a second chance to say what they wanted to say but had no chance to. We design our lives in a way that creates valid excuses for our silence. We trade comfort and avoidance for confrontations and human expression. Where is the freedom in that?
Places of worship continue to vibrate with the intentions of the people who built them and those who used them to utter their prayers…
In the Egyptian desert, near Elephantine Island, is an abandoned coptic monastery that dates back to the 6th century. It is one of the biggest coptic monasteries in the world and it still stands despite a very long time of human abandonment. There are so many stories to be told by the stones of its old walls and by the dents from the many footsteps on its worn out floors. A place built with strong intentions, a gathering center for those who were seeking the solitude of the desert for their spiritual contemplations, a special place with tales to tell.