It appears to be a scientific truth that as we age our vision diminishes with the years. Technically speaking, this simple fact could lead us to conclude that diminished visual capacity means that we will all see less the more our hair turns to gray. I get this, but I’m here to tell you that the opposite is indeed the case. That is, if we are to accept that there is a distinction between mere looking and seeing, then aging could actually be a good thing for all of us. In fact, the familiar “being there, done that” claim that we are all so fond of using, actually holds the key to our ability to see more with age. Unconsciously, we all apply years’ worth of visual experiences to every scene we look at with our alert, yet tired eyes. The computer inside our heads forms a myriad of relationships to other similar scenes in our lives, as well as the outcome of those scenes. This is why an aboriginal who has lived all of his or her life deep in the Amazon jungles will always see a lot more than a city visitor when staring at a thick jungle. It is the visual advantage of experience and time spent outside. So as you age you need to keep on looking, and look some more, put on those glasses that vanity sometimes relegates to a hidden place, and celebrate the passing of time. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much more you will be able to see now that youth is not affecting your vision.
Made any big decisions lately? If you have, then you know how agonizing the process can be, as all sorts of modern variables seem to clash with each other bringing unwanted friction into the process. Money, friends, family, work, mortgages, and a whole slew of things that can become either positive or negative energy bearing down on you. It’s pretty heavy stuff and quite difficult to sort out in a tidy, smooth package. Remember those movies where two small versions of yourself sat at opposite shoulders giving you conflicting advice? Well, life and decisions do appear to resemble those movies. One side urges you to “go for it,” while the other reminds you that “you must be crazy.” In fact, I always thought that it would be a good exercise to divide the “audience” in your life (friends, coworkers, family, and other opinionated folk you may think about) into two sections in a room. Like in a wedding ceremony, the “audience” could be divided down the middle, with one side of the chamber occupied with the “go for it” crowd and the other with the “you must be crazy” one. How would that picture look? Even? Skewed to one side or the other? Hard to generalize because everyone plays their lives in front of a different “audience.” But one thing is for sure: at the end of the journey, when the audiences have long disappeared, it is not their voices that you will hear in your head. No, only one voice will remain with you ’till the very end, and that is your own voice. That’s right, that voice we often suppress when overwhelmed by the audience’s roar. So don’t forget to listen to yourself, and if you do, that may make it a lot easier to decide which side of the “audience” will you allow to influence your life.
This kind of look is not foreign to photographers. In fact, we confront it much too often these days, and it is usually followed by some kind of public, verbal admonition that is intended to make you feel like you have just committed a crime. Certainly, and from this photograph, it would appear that I was the subject of one such admonition, but that was not the case. The gentleman could not have been any nicer to me, even if he kept saying that I should donate my “nice camera” to charity and that “Charity” just happened to be his name. Of course, you would be hard pressed to find his jovial personality from this portrait, but that is precisely the point: sometimes a photo does not convey the real story behind it. Sure, some sort of reality is always revealed by a photo, but this visual first-impression is to a large extent fabricated by our brains rather than supported by the story behind the photograph. The story behind this particular photograph is one of intensity, not anger; of surprise that after our initial conversation I would be interested in taking his photo. I grant you that a smile would have been a bit more reassuring, but I’ve come to accept that people have very unique ways of expressing their feelings. And while in most situations the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” still holds true, sometimes we do seem to need the thousand words to truly understand what the picture is all about. So there it is, and in case you were wondering, no, I did not donate my camera to charity.