Many of us live our lives very publicly in today’s world. The internet and social media have made it possible for us to share our everyday thoughts, feelings, spaces, opinions, relationships and decisions with complete strangers. As time goes on I see this as more and more of a danger; part of the truth may be left in the shadows. In that respect we only really know half (at best) of someone’s story, and so often we judge what we read or see on the surface without truly understanding.
I found out recently that my closest girlfriend, who had what appeared to be a picture perfect life, was suffering for very many years with depression and suicidal thoughts. She had confided in me that she was sad, but I never knew the extent of her pain. Only after she was on the other side did she have the courage to speak out the whole truth of her story. It hurts me that I was not able to walk through her shadowlands with her, to be there and hold her hand. I wish I had pursued it further when she told me she was sad. Empathy goes a long way but in this case it was not enough.
We are all human beings with flaws. We have no room to judge each other or make assumptions based on what we might see on the surface. Most of us have experienced sadness and suffering in our lives along with joy. Light and darkness are part of our stories. I am continually working on being the kind of person who honors and embraces them both.
Photography has been a gift to my life in so many ways. One of the things I am most thankful for is how it makes me more present. Through the practice of photography, eyes become keen observers. I notice the way the light touches everything, how it transforms the colors of the sky and the grass and the water. I see patterns and textures. In my head even the most mundane of scenes has a story to tell, and this hopefully finds its way into my pictures and into the hearts of others.
The salt of the earth.
It’s almost November. It smells like wood smoke outside, wood smoke and pungent saltwater and decay. Damp fog chills to the bone, fragile frost crystals gleam and break at first light. Yellow school buses squeal to a stop, whoosh, sigh, swallow children, move on.
It’s almost November. I bring out the boots, the throw blankets, the scratchy plaid scarf that was my grandmother’s. I order new books. At the supermarket, wooden crates overflow with carefully and somewhat precariously stacked apple varieties. There are squashes and ciders and pumpkins and ears of dried purple corn. At the coffee shop I drink a hot latte and eat a scone that tastes of orange, ricotta and spiced nutmeg.
It’s almost November, and before I know it, this wild riot of color will sleep beneath a blanket of gray and white.