Photography is a way for me to show the world my experiences- things I've seen, my unique way of seeing, and ideally to reflect other people back to themselves in a fun way. As a kid I was really shy and quiet, but had a lot of neat and unusual experiences, and never had a way to "show" the places and events that were so special to me. Beneath those desires was something simpler: "Please understand me." I love seeing myself in pictures, and yet I rarely appear in them, or if I do, I don't get to see the results. I'm not camera shy.
I tried to take pictures as a kid to show my experiences, but poor equipment and no money for better limited my options. Certain special events got my mom's attention, and she took some really great pictures, but (until this month) they were lost in buried boxes, and they weren't exactly my perspective anyhow. So one month after I got married, I researched and bought myself my first good camera, and totally fell in love. Picture #3 was a picture of Hope, who was then a 5-week old kitten, standing on a Welcome mat, looking curious. When I saw that success, I knew - photography was going to stick. It took me 7 years to achieve the "look" I wanted (a lot of skills to learn!) but I got there.
This month I made an sudden trip up to my parents' house when the photos - especially slides - came unburied, and I rescued them, and have a long archival project ahead of me. It will be awesome to bring back some of the brilliant images I remember that made me fall in love with visual storytelling in the first place.
I'm still working on going back now, to places that were special, and capturing what bits are left of my stories from so many years before. If I'm lucky, I'll find some of them in my family archives. Place holds a very special key to my heart, especially certain wild places.
Somewhere around age 3-4 I started noticing that I could tell when I was having fun learning something new, and I could tell when I was getting frustrated because it was hard. I also learned that taking a break and coming back to it later was valuable and more comfortable. I had a simple explanation at the time: "Tomorrow, I'll be a little bit older, so the work will be a little bit easier." I giggle now remembering that.
School brought self-consciousness, in the bad sense. I was so different. I spent a lot of long bus rides home wondering if I was an alien or something, and the whole world was conspiring against me to some nefarious purpose. I thought it was a silly idea at the time, but also weirdly comforting; at least it would mean there was a reason for my differences. I lived so many years just trying to understand; I had words for it ("gifted") but it wasn't satisfying. It wasn't until about age 16 that I started to really understand who I was, and who those other kids were, and why my experiences with them were what they were.
Then in adulthood, self-consciousness moved aside, back into self-awareness, particularly awareness of my power, my skills and abilities, and my drive for a great life. Knowing who I am in, in nearly every sense, lets me set about my life with purpose and direction and choice, creating my own opportunities. Knowing what I need, physically and emotionally, helps me create an environment and daily life where I have the most potential for success and growth and stable professionalism. It is the foundation that lets me be effective.
They say curiosity killed the cat, but I think the cat found a wormhole to another dimension and is still exploring. Have you ever had a day when you felt like things were so surreal, you could actually believe that if you opened your closet door, there was at least a 40% chance of a dimensional portal vortex there? I've had a few of those days. At times, I spent hours daydreaming about what it would actually be like, emotionally and practically, if one day I walked out into my yard and some alien spacecraft landed and invited me aboard, and I had only an hour or so to pack - just walk on and disappear?
Would I miss the life I left behind? How would I deal with the emotional adjustment? Would the amazing opportunities overshadow my homesickness? How well could I adapt to language and cultural barriers, weird new technology, species differences? What would I write in a journal, if I could keep one, about the first few days? The first year? Would it be different if it were a dimensional portal to some alternate reality Earth? Would I still go? What if Daniel were coming with me, but no one else I knew - would it change my choices? If I found a whirling vortex in my closet, would I yell for someone to come see, or would I reach out and touch it first to see what it was like just in case it immediately vanished? Which is more important to me, the first-hand experience or the external validation from someone else? If I encountered something that far out of my normal sphere of physical reality, (and taking into consideration that I don't use recreational chemicals, so it'd be less likely to be hallucinated...), would I be afraid of touching it / interacting? Or would I be so fascinated and in awe that I would explore anyway, with no idea of the dangers or risks? Would the chance for first-hand experience be enough to convince me to risk everything, even my life and my future? Or would I hesitate, too long?
It was an interesting thought experiment. :)
Hmm, this is a more difficult one for me to respond to. I have an awkward relationship with it. There's the simple kind of beauty - the colors and shapes and clean fantasy of the photos I take. Simple, easily controlled, and fairly easily mastered. Then there's the elegance of any high quality work - well written poetry or well structured computer code; it has an aesthetic that comes from the effects of excellence and care. Those are easy types of beauty for me to interact with. Moonlight on the water, trees swaying in the sun.
Then there's the kind I struggle with more. Moonlight on a naked breast. Hair shining in the sun. The edgy smile of a person feeling playful and vulnerable all at once. Beauty that stuns me, makes me quiver, awakens desire and uncertainty. Sometimes I create that beauty in myself, flaunting it a bit for others to enjoy, and still I'm not entirely comfortable with it. So many years a tomboy, and so many years of knowing that it didn't matter anyway because I was Outcast. And, years of wild beauty; the beauty of sharp lively eyes and wild tangled hair and alertness and energy out in the wild places, where formal clothes would quickly look too ragged. Beauty that calls out raw physicality, rather than glitz and polish and civilized behavior. Beauty without any makeup, without any fancy clothes; just real.
I watch the pretty girls, but usually don't think of myself as one; except, in certain special-effort circumstances, and then I know exactly what I'm bringing. But I never expect the 'pretty ones' to take an interest in me. Not the gals or the guys. And that makes me sad sometimes.
More with the difficult to answer. :P :) I walk through a forest and can see the glimmering sense of spirit of place, the life of what happens in each space. When I'm out there, I know I am a part of that. It reminds me of my own power, makes me feel safe, and relaxes me into more creative thinking patterns and more gentleness with myself. I think the motion of the trees and bushes in the summer wind offers a lot for light trance that also helps me. And what I always come back to is a sense of the energy, drive, and enthusiasm within me, that wants to LIVE. Loudly, completely, exuberantly, to taste all that life has to offer in a given moment. I was so closed to life as a shy child; so afraid, I said no to so many things. Now I can say yes, and sometimes I do.
I have a really strong drive to be, to act, to grow. It's not so loud and pushy as some people's; mine is air and earth, not fire. Mine is more about smooth and steady foundation, with dedicated persistence towards results. The long climb. But I can do it because I am enjoying each step of the way, and measuring my progress, and deeply feeling what it is that I'm aiming for.
Life-force, for me, is also closely related to sex; all of its energy, enthusiasm, obsessiveness, short-sightedness, intensity, and fun. The social taboos around that... or, around talking about it openly... tend to shut down my discussions, enthusiasm, and expressiveness at times. I'm especially likely to go quiet if I am watching boundaries, such as intentionally avoiding flirting (or anything vaguely like it) because someone has already turned me down. I think I often go too far in worrying about it. My own sense of ethics tells me to watch those limits, and I sometimes struggle with how to still be myself and not be overcautious, yet also be respectful. Weird balancing act, and difficult much of the time.
That's all for tonight - time to get some sleep. Yay words. :)