A side note: Due to a typo (or so I thought), I misspelled the word compelled in the first sentence of this post. When I re-read my post for editing, I discovered that rather than typing compelled, I had written completed. Well, that certainly set me thinking in even more directions. Nowadays, making pictures does make me feel more complete.
At any rate, I had been thinking about how taking photographs helps me to see my world more clearly and to be more conscious of the moment. I have always appreciated the mystery and splendor of nature, but I am looking much more closely now because of time spent with a camera in hand.
It seems to me that, for one thing, there is an honoring, acknowledgment, or salute that is taking place when I snap the shutter. When I point my lens at something around me I make the statement: this matters—perhaps only to me, but still, I have now stepped forward to become the one of those who paid attention. In the giant scheme of things, my act of acknowledgment certainly makes a leaf falling of cosmic importance in comparison.
Of course what does matter is that when I point my lens at a thing, while I am connected with what I see, I am also refining my understanding of who and what I am. (Here, I am decidedly less than original.) Paul Butzi, for one, has written about this in some depth and fairly recently, if I recall, even though I don't remember all the specific articles. Moreover, just a couple of weeks ago, Andrew Ilachinski posted a wonderful article on photography as a tool for self-discovery. Andrew included this marvelous quotation that I have repeated here:
“A man sets out to draw the world.
of his own face.”- JORGE LUIS BORGES
And then, mid-June, we went to Bear Valley for a couple of days and when I spotted a sign proclaiming an arts and crafts fair at Central Park in Tehachapi, I convinced The Husband that he would need a break from weed whacking and we should take advantage of the opportunity to meet some folks from town. It turned out that Central Park was just off Tehachapi Boulevard and as we made our way to the fair that Sunday, I knew that our route would take us right by the depot, so I thought about checking the latest progress on the renovation.
The sight we saw took our breath away. Where the over a hundred year old building with the peeling paint and years of rich history had stood, there was only a pile of charred rubble. We both were devastated. Later that day, we learned that the building had been destroyed in a fire that had broken out in the early hours of Friday, the 13th and that by the time the fire department arrived, the building couldn’t be saved. Arson was suspected and the latest news is that fireworks were involved. It turns out the sprinkler system was to have been installed on Friday followed, within days, by the grand re-opening of the town’s pride and joy. According to the people we talked to that Sunday, the city has plans to rebuild the historic site. But, it turns out I will have to wait a long time to reacquaint myself with the delightful old Southern Pacific depot.