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: Psychology
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.
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
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.
W I L L
“I must break you.” Drago, from Rocky IV, as he stares at Rocky.
I love the line because it’s a metaphor or simile, or whatever the correct nonsensical grammar construct it is.
It does seem like life needs to break us. We are all supposed to experience the humility and realization that life is relentless and that we must rely on other people to be full people ourselves.
I like to joke that the only reason any of us keep our sanity is that life spaces out the punches enough instead of administering them simultaneously. Our conscious minds have memory and often torture us with carrying scars from the past. So the current punch overlaps with trauma and hurt that we haven’t dealt with.
Earlier in the week, I met someone who told me that she got fired one day and then found out she had cancer the next. And she’s still happy enough to keep smiling. Neither of her current obstacles are a result of her behavior.
And that’s the fun and folly of life. A lot of our misfortunes result from the recipe we follow for our lives. And the rest? They come at us randomly.
Though it’s just a movie, Rocky was outmatched by power and size. But he had something Drago didn’t. And that was the sheer magnificent power of will.
I know some of you have people like that in your life. They just seem unbeatable even though they’ve been knocked down so many times. I’m jealous of those people. They don’t have any magical or secret powers that aren’t available to the rest of us. It’s entirely mental. I need Mickey in my corner right now and Rocky’s will in my head.
In the wreck of my day, the last thing I wanted to do was get out. For a lot of reasons. I tend to carry my emotions on my sleeve. But a mutual friend asked me to notarize something for somebody who really needed it. I met her at Fossil Cove. It’s a stone’s throw away from where I live. When I approached the bar and asked the bartender for the woman by name, I could see that she hesitated, wondering what I could possibly want. But I explained myself, knowing she probably thought I was up to no good. Had she noticed my name on my badge, that probably would have made her even more nervous. And she hollered over at the woman I was going to help. I’ve never charged anyone for notary. And never will. When she told me what she had gone through, a click turned in my head. I sat and looked at this woman, realizing that she had an impossible smile on her face given the information she just shared. I’m not certain I could have a smile on my face in her situation. But she did. That little click I felt in my head was perspective and gratefulness slamming into me. Even in chaos. I could feel that my mind wasn’t right. I’m glad I got out and did that favor for a friend and for the woman. I needed it.
The Exclusion Observation
I know this one is obvious.
I can’t tell you how often I hear about other people engaging in it.
I’ve known for most of my adult life how damaging this can be to people. Even if they don’t say so. They are waiting for you to understand. Most people might not until they’ve experienced it themselves. Or until someone they love communicates the hurt it engenders.