The elderly man shuffles slowly down a deserted street, fatigue weighing heavily on his shoulders. The broom he pushes falls without ceremony to the ground as he grabs to his hat. Gusting wind sends old paper wrappers and an empty can clanking down the empty street before it. Cigarette butts litter the sidewalk, mixed with confetti and slowly dying balloons. The dampness from a recent rain brings up the musty smell of wet cardboard into the air, rising from the nearby alleyway clogged with old boxes and burdened with evidence of population overload.
Two days ago it was impossible to walk this same path without being jostled about by the crowd. Not today. The holiday is passed and the parade is over. What was festive is now dull and lifeless with little to celebrate but the triumph of one more block to clean and the knowledge that another days work will be offered. The gentleman picks up his broom from where it fell, adjusts his hat and starts the repetitive motion of pushing filth once again.
Sometimes work is just that. Work. According to the Deloitte Shift Report in 2013, a whopping 89% of the workforce is not passionate about their jobs. 11% responded that they felt passionate about what they did for a living. Only 11%. Ouch.
I tried to be passionate a few times, but work got in the way. Too many people whose passion is themselves and they pay for it at the expense of others. I still hold onto promise and search regularly for the passion to make tomorrow’s work a focus of desire and not just a necessity. I need the hope. One day I hope not to need the job.
In the interim, I take pictures and reflect on the moments they capture. I use the memories of frozen pixels as a handhold to lift me from the struggles of today into the hopefulness of tomorrow. I see the storms of life and know they too shall pass, usually with a powerful sunset and the refreshing calmness that following a summer thunderstorm. I stare into the calm waters and see the reflection of clouds moving to their next adventure. I wait patiently for my next adventure as well.
The street sweeper continues to push his broom, knowing the next parade will someday come and go with celebration and fanfare. I will continue to find the reflections of optimism in the pictures I take and we will both wake tomorrow with a renewed sense of purpose.
Why do I take pictures, you ask? I am happy to explain. I believe we all should take more pictures; and here is why.
There are very few things that get me to the relaxed state faster than sitting on an open beach like the picture above.
Taking pictures is one of those things.
You see, I am drawn to the sound of the ocean and the lullaby that the waves can whisper in my ears. The feel of warm sand on my feet and the smell of the salt air pressed against my face by the ever present warm breeze waltzing in from it’s watery voyage. The blues and greens of the sea and the sky mixing colors that artists envy. Cotton-soft clouds that float through the air and bounce invitingly on the atmospheric currents. All of these things cover my spirit with a gentle blanket of peace.
But I am limited right now in the time that I can spend in this coastal Arcadia; so I stare at the picture above and I imagine all the sounds, scents, and scenery that I felt when I snapped the exposure.
I struggle daily with the harsh reality of the world and I allow it to overwhelm me at times. The levels of cruelty that we can reach with each other and the conflict that I and the souls I mingle with face each day all pass before my eyes and are seen with unfiltered vision.
But when I raise the camera and peer through the viewfinder my vision clears. The chaos and anxiety created by the world is removed and I see a picture. I see a story. I feel a calm developed by a sense of wonder pushed toward me through the lens with creative earnest. I snap a picture. I stop time. I grab a reprieve and I carry it away with me in pixels full of color and form. The camera stops the insanity that is our world and settles it down to red, green, and blue channels and mixes them together to show me something more wonderful and peaceful, and simple.
As I have said on my photo website; I selfishly take these pictures for me, but I happily share their vision with anyone who will take a look, in the hopes that they offer a moment of reflection. Although I have a specific tale to tell in each of the pictures I take, the story seen by others in each one is theirs to do with as they please.
I think we all need to take more pictures of the good things and take the time to narrate our fond memories with the hope of easing the strain of life’s journey just a little at a time.
A WanderingPixels blog remix.
A man wakes up early in the morning every day to go to work at a company he loves. He builds boats. He works with other people who build boats, specifically fishing boats. His particular craft, which he does well, is to hand-lay the air dried lumber planks that form the hull of the boat. He specializes in carvel planking, which he learned from his father who learned it from his father, who used the same technique when he built Tall Ships that crossed the oceans in earlier times.
The boats this man builds are used to catch shrimp off the coast of North Carolina. One boat in particular, the Miss Evans, spent many years in service bringing in shrimp that was served in restaurants up and down the East Coast. Some of those shrimp made it inland, traveling a few hundred miles on ice to satisfy the needs of Piedmont landlubbers craving a taste of the sea’s bounty.
In a small town in the central part of the state, there is a cozy diner that got a shipment of these delectable shrimp delivered only once or twice a year. It was news in this little town, and the arrival of the Miss Evans shrimp was always announced with fanfare. One particular individual was especially excited when the shrimp arrived. She had never seen the ocean. Confined to her bed by a tragic accident, she was limited in her ability to travel. Nonetheless, she appreciated good shrimp, and saved diligently to be able to purchase a few when they came to town. She never married and was focused on her trade.
Although immobile, she knew how to sew. She specialized in making jackets; heavy wool jackets that could keep a person warm and dry in the worst of weather. The fine detail and extra care that was put into her coats was well known. Each was handmade and crafted for the individual who ordered it. Although expensive by the standards of the time, she was only able to lovingly create 4 or 5 jackets a year due to the complexity of their needlework. Still, she had a waiting list of folks who wanted to own her treasured jackets that was pages long up until the day she died.
A gentleman from New England proudly wore one of those coats every day, weather permitting. He got the coat as a gift many years ago, from a friend who owned a boat building company. One of the workers had mentioned that his aunt made the nicest wool jackets, highly prized for their fit and finish. The owner had purchased a coat from Miss Evans and cherished it so much that gave a boat the same name, to honor her for the fine work she obviously took so much pride in doing.
The boat builder never knew a boat he carefully created had been named after his aunt.
The gentleman from New England later became president of the United States, wore the prized wool jacket at his inauguration, and now it hangs in the Smithsonian.
Miss Evans never knew that the shrimp she so loved came from a boat with her namesake, or a jacket she made became famous.
The owner of the boat building company eventually retired and moved inland. He bought a small diner in a central part of the North Carolina, where he serves shrimp when he can get it once or twice a year.
In the spirit of honesty; this story is a work of fiction. I created it while looking at the picture I took of a boat. And while none of it is true, the premise of the story line is not so far-fetched.
Edward Lorenz was a very smart man. His Chaos Theory, later leading to the term he coined– “The Butterfly Effect” describes how slight changes in one dynamic system can and will have an affect on other dynamic systems in proximity, which in turn will affect another, and so on. Basically stated, chaos is defined by Mr. Lorenz: “When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.”
Fascinatingly confusing to try and think about for a simple mind like mine, but here is how I translate it:
I like to think that I have have potential for lots of unseen connections of some form or fashion. Most of my acquaintances and people I run into each day come from different backgrounds, perform different jobs, and cope with daily life in different ways. I think we all have a story to tell that brought us to where we are today. Although different in many ways, I think I still impact many people I don’t even know by what I say and do to get myself through the day. I wonder what type of tangled web I would discover if I could see all the lines that remotely tie us together as I wiggle through life every day.
I just hope when I flap my wings, like the butterfly in South Africa; I create something more pleasant than a hurricane.
Every morning we awake and go through the motions of what will be our legacy for the day…until the sun sets and the colorful lights fade, and the moments allotted us for that period once again pass along into eternity.
What we accomplish and who we touch and what we say; these all play together to create other tomorrows for us and for those with whom we have interacted. These contact moments are the lifeless lumps of clay that we give away for others to work with and mold them to create their own life stories. Once hardened in the kiln of memories, and glazed with the colors of love, these timeless moments can be packed away and treasured for as long as we continue to care for them.
Through their power, even in the dark of the coldest night, they give us the opportunity to feel comfort from the warmth of growing friendship and kindred spirits.
So as you travel your life’s journey, always carry the knowledge that you are special. By mere existence, you have the chance to touch another life and spark an ember of warmth that will continue to glow and spread a spirit of joy; always connected. You are now destined to continue to do great things. You are a comforter, a servant, perhaps a caregiver to many, a leader of some…but most importantly…always capable of being a friend.
♦Photo Tip♦ A tripod or a place to brace your camera is essential for early morning or late evening shots. The slower shutter speed will highlight any movement and blur it. For water shots, this can be just the soft focus you are looking for, but for the surrounding area, you want it to be tack sharp with a steady camera.
I love the ocean and I love the beach, but there are times when I actually avoid both, even on those beautiful sunny afternoons. The sand is warm and the water is inviting, but the crowds that pack them have the ability to quickly wick the enjoyment from the experience.
Those same crowds will disappear during the evening hours as night moves in. The the sun drops into a distance horizon, and a quiet calm blankets the beach as the moon slides into view. Stars slowly pop out of the dark sky and a kinder, gentler mood mingles nicely with the cooler salt air.
Now I can hear myself think.
Nobody is trying to talk over the sound of the crashing waves or boisterous crowds, vying for control of the soundspace around them.
Interesting how sometimes we tend to fight for that same desire to be heard throughout the day. I used to think that the louder I spoke, the more likely I was to be heard. It wasn’t long for me to figure out a different strategy. Like the beautiful quiet of the night time coast, I have found that by stepping back and speaking softly, many times the world around will get quieter as it strains to hear what I have to say.
Next time you feel nobody is listening stand tall, speak softly and see what happens.
♦Photo Tip♦ Don’t give up on pictures because the sun goes down. All it requires is patience and a steady resting point for the camera. I took the photo above on a North Carolina Beach late one night using a tripod and a long exposure. This will smooth out the water and as you can see; bring out the light of a full moon to mimic bright sunshine with darkness surrounding.