Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Waiting Room

There are times when I take photos where I don't know what, if anything, the end result will be. Despite my best attempts to control the elements, the shutter speeds and depth of field, ultimately so much of what winds up actually getting captured is still left up to chance. In this case though I was blessed with a near perfect combination of elements. The light was good, or at least enough that I could achieve what I was after. The subject was static, giving me ample time to compose, test, and shoot from several different perspectives. Best of all, I had an idea in my head about what i wanted the final result to be, and given the other circumstances, was able to store the information in a way that I could get there without cheating too much on the post processing.

In my head, I felt that it would be cool to get this Endless Summer look. Endless because, while now firmly entrenched in October, we here in San Diego find that we are finally getting the summer we had been hoping for during the rather gloomy months July and August. Of course, this attempt at a relaxing mood is overshadowed by the markedly busy arrangement of the elements. Even though the bikes seem to be the focus, in fact the whole photograph is filled with those things that make up a perfect Southern California summer. This busy arrangement of elements got me thinking about all of the methods we use to distract ourselves during the course of our lives.

Are the things we occupy ourselves with really life, or simply a distraction from life?

From almost the instant we are able to comprehend such things, our spaces and our heads are filled with a nearly endless array of distractions. The resort setting, the docks to house our sailboats, the surfboards and of course the bikes that, if not well preserved for decades were painstakingly made to look that way. All generally positive, these are the fun things that make the less spectacular aspects of our lives easier to swallow. I should note that I am not overlooking the irony of the distractions I'm currently engaged with just in making this blog. Of course this only means the resort setting can be a living room with HDTV's and Play Stations, tricked out automobiles with sound systems loud enough for a Megadeth concert, or a Nikon camera with a charged battery and a 4GB memory card.

I'm reminded of how, when we are waiting in a doctors office, we are presented with a pile of aging magazines. Left with nothing else to occupy our minds but an endless list of possibilities (generally not good ones) our only other option is to distract ourselves with outdated celebrity gossip, medical articles that most of couldn't begin to understand, and half completed puzzles and mazes designed for eight year olds.

Most of us have some notion that something lies beyond what we define as life, even though most admit we can't begin to understand what it is. Depending on beliefs and attitude what we have to look forward to can be wonderful, unnerving or even downright frightening. Yet being in the position we are in, where there is nothing we can do other than wait for the answer to this question, we must find something to do in the meantime. Some of us will bury ourselves with work, hoping a lifetime of ambition will make us satisfied. Some will push the absolute limits of human capacity, hoping to always feel more alive. Some will take thousands of photographs then write articles trying to apply spiritual meaning to them, hoping for some understanding of his own. ;-)

The bikes have been, at least temporality, abandoned while their owners find something else to occupy them. Perhaps this aspect is the most spiritual in the photograph; the part that reminds us that the real meaning of life is simply what we take in when we are not engaged in these distractions. At the risk of contradicting myself I will admit we need these things, be them bikes, cameras, computers or cars, as they do serve to keep us engaged in this life it is right now. moreover, we don't always need to be engaged in such heavy thought. The simple pleasure of pedaling by the shoreline is just as good for the soul. Maybe that is the meaning.

Whether waiting for our turn to see a physician, or our turn to have that most pressing of cosmic questions answered, we are wise to remember that these things don't happen on our time. Might was well have something to do in the meantime.

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