findingexpression

awe, humility, hope and a few other things I might notice


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Finding Expression

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I think there are people who take pictures because of the beauty of light, for excellence, to document history or to fancy themselves artistic or clever, to protest, to shock, for a slap in the face, a gritty statement or simply to delight. Then there are those that take pictures to see through life, as if the molecular level or truth itself could be revealed if we get it just right, suspend the breath and slowly breathe out, click. There are those that take pictures to touch the familiar through reflecting mirrors, a waltz with memory that is escaping our tendons and vessels and might hang on when grasped by a tiny aperture. Like a dancer’s hands on a man’s shoulders, bending every joint of hand and finger so tightly a million lines are engraved in them. If the lines are just right, from that tense alignment she can slice a thin sheet like lace or cloud and it forms a picture, a slide of memory that can be inserted between the neurons and disperse like ether in the mind.

The sculptor and the painter too make choices about how hard to press into the mold, stretch the resin, or to allow globs of paint to form miniature mountains of emotion or fan it out to shallow rivers, moss, or translucent skin. Even an athlete is finding expression in outbursts of electricity or meditating on repetitive motions. Writers, we have to work with the enunciation of vowels, curving consonants obscured in ink and paper or worse, their facsimiles flattened on screens. We can employ the cacophony of k’s, and ch’s and staccato st’s like birds in late spring trees flitting here and there, the raucous and the sweet all a crash. We can swoon and exhale loudly on commas, bend question marks, pursue with semi-colons and ellipsis. A writer can call upon ancestors, archaic definitions and make glamorous or ridiculous new creations with amalgamations, innovations, detonating bombs or precipitatations.

What tools we use, where we direct the mirrors, this is the play. What tiny portion of a world cracked open, seeping, bleeding, or sweetening honey drips from ink on paper? I write and photograph to remember, to discover, to reveal, most of all to see, to turn the mirror in every direction. I cannot capture the beauty and allure of twilight in a photograph, but if I can hold the letters in my hands, fingertips brushing on sounds and forms like it was a new language, then maybe I can not only find expression, but carry you, the reader, on my gentle river of words.

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Erase

Sometimes we imagine we can walk out of our life as if it were a piece of paper, two dimensional, but we were three dimensional and we could just walk away, walk beyond it. All the objects in our life would become flat, existing somewhere, but not touching us, ¾ of the way down the trash chute, discarded, someone else’s. Sometimes we want to throw away the people in our lives too, erase them. What we really want is to erase the flaws, the father who drinks, the mother who didn’t defend herself, the brother or sister that teased too much instead of encouraging, the bullies, the thiefs, the breakers of hearts, the terrorists and haters, the sullen and the reckless. We want more heroes and we want to be our own saviors; of our honor, of our kindness. We wished we were poets or dancers, gifted surgical precision decision makers, that we always knew what was right and wrong and chose the best path more often, and always when it really mattered. But instead we are driving around in disappearing cars of our dreams and floating in the air without the power to steer ourselves over those dangerous cliffs. We cannot guarantee an easy landing or even determine where exactly we will set down. I can only hope that the journey won’t scare me as much as it used to and I try, I really try to enjoy every moment of floating, no matter where it takes me.