I’m no fan of photography, but I do love pictures. Over the years, I became so tired of people’s reluctance to have their pictures taken. I was once a fan of guerilla photography or in-the-moment shots. Digital transformed the world. I could take endless pictures without concern for staging, lighting, speed, or detail. Except the one consequence that emerged was people’s reluctance to have their pictures taken. I let it dampen my enthusiasm and slowly stopped enjoying the attempt. People do have the right to express displeasure at having their photos taken. But. I don’t understand it. They want to curate, approve, or control their image. The weird thing about it is the element of control. These same people walk around all day, and people see them in all manner of contortions and situations. They are in view, observed, and noted hundreds of times a day without the slightest possibility of them being able to reduce, filter, or affect it. Most of us are in countless passive surveillance videos and camera shots. We’ve become mostly blind to it. At the heart of it all? If someone is taking a picture of you, it’s overwhelmingly because they know you, like you, love you, and want to capture a small slice of you, captured in time and place. Everyone has a camera in their pocket now. I shake my head at the fact that so many want to take pictures of other people and yet recoil if the urge is reciprocal in others. It’s becoming unhealthy – that urge to curate. As for me, I might not love some of the pictures taken of me, but all of them ARE me in whatever moment is captured. I relish it when anyone wants a picture of me. Not because of vanity… (because I’m not George Clooney). Rather, because it demonstrates interest. I’ve lost almost all my aversion to worrying about how pictures of me look. I miss the days when I could snap a photo of any moment filled with the people around me. Because no matter how you think you look, you are still you twenty-four hours a day. The fact that a picture is being taken is a testament to your presence in life. It is bewildering to me in an age of constant surveillance that people strive so hard to control their own curation. Let it be, let it flow, and feel appreciated. Photography isn’t accusation. It’s a frozen moment in time of how you really look. It isn’t intended to provoke an identity crisis. Relax. We all see you as you all day. Love, X
Category Archives: Health
Who We Are
I’m a very hands-on affectionate person. Could it be a trauma response to my childhood? I hope so. I unilaterally rejected almost all the behaviors and habits of my parents. There are some consequences to growing up that way that have positive benefits. I’m not worried about being emotional, saying I love you, hugging, or expressing myself. I’m not aggressive, but there is a buried hardness inside me thanks to my dad. I didn’t realize that it could be a good thing until much later in life. It’s there if needed. My instincts are a guide for me. That too is probably a trauma response. I’m aware of the fact that it developed from needing to be dialed into the potential for drama and violence and the danger of lesser people. It can be an anxiety response that doesn’t serve my happiness sometimes. But its presence and the overthinking it causes has at times been a lightning bolt in my head that frequently categorizes people for me, even when there’s nothing observable to justify it. I can’t change things that happened decades ago. Likewise, I am happy that the maelstrom of toxicity affected me. I would have rather grown up otherwise. I can’t change that, though. I wish I could double back twenty years and see if these realizations would yield a different me. But that past thinking always robs the present and the future. I’m me, and you’re you. Both of us have the opportunity to redefine and discard the things about ourselves that don’t work well for us. Mostly, though? We don’t. Change is hard, insight is sporadic, and the motivation to put in the work to be who we’d like is unimaginably uncomfortable. Love, X
The Reluctance Curve
You don’t need willpower. You need action, action that carries you over the wall of reluctance. Your life fights against change.
P O N D E R: A Moment
He was lost in the maze of the hospital. Somehow he found himself in a hallway by elevators reserved for the people conducting the largely hidden work that sustains such a place. He stood by the elevators, casually looking at all the unhelpful signage. The access doors opened to his right. A nurse pushing a bed came through them, struggling with the effort. On the bed lay a young woman about 16 years of age. Her hair was disheveled, and she looked uncertain. Next to her was an open book upside down. The nurse dragged the bed to a stop inches away from the man. He turned towards the young girl and said, “You look so much like my niece.” The young woman smiled weakly toward him and nodded. “Are you doing okay?” he asked her. She shook her head “no” as the nurse watched her. “I know you don’t know me, but do you need anything?” His voice cracked as he spoke. The young woman reached up with her right hand and held his. The man didn’t flinch and lightly gripped her hand in return. After a few seconds, she let go and smiled again. The nurse gave the bed a sharp push and continued down the hall. Anyone standing there bore witness to one of those rare moments of anonymous caring. The kind we hope fills every corner of the world.
Wide Smiles, Dark Heart
I’ve had a post about contractors in my draft folder for 2 years. The impetus to finish it wasn’t there because I no longer own a house. But all of us use contractors, exterminators, and various other people to help us with the things we need to be done. Whether we own or rent, we’re all going to have strangers in our house, deliver to our door, or have access.
Even though bad things happen, they’re rare because most people are good. Even if they aren’t, fear of consequences keeps most of them in line. I’m no alarmist, but all of us who watch or read the news see a barrage of crazy stories where people misbehave. Frankly speaking, many of these encounters can be minimized or avoided if people are both aware and prepare.
I joke a lot about people making the mistake of saying things like, “…but what are the odds of that happening?” The odds of course aren’t high, but they are definitely non-zero. People who’ve had planes crash on them get the last word regarding what is “likely” to happen.
If you think about all the people you’ve known and stories you’ve heard, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all been on the perimeter of misbehavior. All of us have felt the shock of hearing or seeing someone we know do something bad. That effect is multiplied countlessly outside of our own lives.
One thing that everyone should do is at a minimum have a camera on their front door if they can afford it. Or one capturing anyone coming into their residence. Cameras of course tend to dissuade misbehavior. But not always.
You can’t research the people coming to your house or inside it. This gig economy gives a wider swath of different people the ability to move about. Whether it’s Uber, Amazon delivery, or any service.
Just remember that it’s your home and your private safe place. Don’t open the door if you don’t need to. And remember that anybody that comes inside your residence could be anybody, good or bad. Making the mistake of judging them based on their appearance potentially can be a mistake. It doesn’t matter if they are a police officer, lawyer, or welder. People misbehaving come in all shapes and clothing. Studies prove that just seeing someone around greatly reduces your sense of danger or insecurity. The familiar by its nature disarms us. For those few people with ill intentions, most of them have crafted and perfected their words, appearance, and behavior.
Recently, I got reminded of this because of someone inside my bubble. The person turned out to be what my instincts told me he might be. I still have the lingering feeling that his presence on this planet affected a lot of people. And even though I should not say so, things might have happened had the universe not intervened.
I don’t want people to be scared as they live their lives. That’s no way to live.
I wade directly into the middle of strangers, sometimes even when I know there is a risk. But I make that choice for myself. Letting someone into my home is another thing entirely. My ex next door neighbor was a drug dealer. Drugs don’t make me nervous because a surprising number of people use them without ever behaving inappropriately. But all of us know that peripheral behavior often accompanies those who do. And then the people below me had a visibly suspect cast of characters in and out. Often it’s not the people with obvious characteristics of mischief and mayhem who turn out to be the creeps and monsters. A great number of them have a beautiful smile and show no outward expression of their intentions.
I know a few people whose lives were almost ruined by people with wide smiles and dark hearts.
Just be careful. Especially regarding where you live.
PS The picture has nothing to do with the post. Yesterday afternoon I sat in my office chair as a hundred rainbows washed over me from the prisms hanging on the landing.
Non Carpe Diem
What would you do?
Most people don’t have someone to be their inner voice, someone who will tell them unflinchingly what they might not want to hear. We’ve all learned the horror of making the mistake of saying what needs to be said. Very few of us embrace and welcome loving criticism. Because most of us have blind spots that grow over time. Love, X
NSFW implications: though none of my friends ever, ever curse… A bucket list is awesome to help you prioritize and motivate yourself to action. There is a corollary idea that is based on non-action, non-attachment, non-participation, and non-response. And usually? It saves you a lot of thinking, drama, and unhappiness. It’s zenlike in its implications.
Ponderings Of The Past (The Hidden)
It hasn’t been that many years ago, though it seems it, that I had to do taxes. I didn’t mind doing them, but that year was a nightmare. I had to submit 28 casino declarations as a result of jackpots. Not mine. It took hours just for that portion. I didn’t mind going to the casino. Travel a bit, and gamble for a bit. Casinos can be a lot of fun. I was a terrible gambler, and though I would sometimes risk more if the slot asked for more money than I made in an hour after taxes, that stuck in my head. But I’d go for walks or sit and read while my partner passed hours seated in the casino. She won quite often, no doubt about it. You don’t get 28+ jackpots in a year without spending a LOT of hours in casinos. Again, I enjoyed casinos to a degree. But I did get frustrated when she’d blame me for not engaging in activities that weren’t casino-related. How can you have time for other things when casinos ate up most of your free time? Work consumed the rest. I was happy writing, doing picture projects, walking, and just spending time wherever I was. The other thing was the secrecy about going to the casino. I had no problem saying where I was going. But when you’re gambling that much, on a long enough timeline, everyone knows you’re not winning, no matter how many jackpots say otherwise. My partner didn’t want everyone to know where she was or how often she went. Whether it was her close family or the religious owners of the company she worked for. I get it. But that secrecy crept into conversations. I haven’t been back to the casino since. Now that it’s all in the past, I wonder what might have happened had we spent even half of that time on bicycles, walking, or visiting places or would-be friends instead of inside the noise-filled casinos we traveled to. It’s a moot question. But it’s one of the many reasons I say everything is much more complex than people are told. It usually is. People are told stories, or they hear things, thinking they know all the variables and understand the linear conclusion we came to. They don’t. Because they don’t know. I was perplexed by the contradictory attitude of letting work consume you only to pour that money into an activity that provided temporary entertainment. Let a job rob you of energy and free time and give it to that kind of entertainment? I would have rather spent time out walking and doing other things without the money. And I tried. But you go along for a complex series of reasons that seem different once you’re away from it. I caught hell for the way I was about watching TV. Like any other activity, I’m attentive. I hate watching things while scrolling on a phone or puttering around the house. That’s what HGTV is for; background noise. If watching TV is a mutually enjoyed activity, part of the allure of it is watching it together; otherwise, you’re just occupying space and burning time away. I shake my head that my tv-watching was turned into an accusation of controlling behavior. I’m that way with reading, writing, or anything I’m engaged in. The reason I mention it is that I never strongly made the same point about casinos: they literally ate up a huge portion of our free time and money. And I would have loved to be doing other things most of the time. Was I being controlled because I was spending my life doing something that I enjoyed to a degree but would have rather been enjoying life some other way? That’s the kind of connection people miss. And they definitely weren’t told. And all of it had an impact on how we ended up.
Fire Brings Fire