I have not said those four simple words so often in my life as I have these past six months. I always thought I knew, but now I am not so sure.
I do not know if a group I meet with will or will not offer their hand in a gesture of greeting.
I do not know if COVID-19 and all the panic associated with it will ever go away.
I do not know if the virus will mutate into something stronger and we will have to endure this cycle of craziness for another season?
I do not know if a day will ever happen when we are not wearing a mask.
I do not know after the elections here in America (whether you are Democrat or Republican) if the rules will alter again and for good?
I thought we would have all the social unrest in America in our rear-view mirror by now…
I do not know when we will get past this.
I do not know…
But above all this hovers the reality that I just “thought” I knew. All along I did not know. Thinking about this I can expand that and say that most things on this planet fall into the “I do not know” category. And somehow, I must become okay with that.
This is the first time I have taken pen in hand and wrote in this blog since May. Life has been a tossed salad since Covid-19. I could feel myself starting to come unraveled in April. There were too many unknowns for a guy like me, who is a control freak, to tolerate. I started to realize just what all the news, the information (you can add disinformation right along with that) and social media was doing to my overall wellbeing.
I vowed myself off social media back in June. And later in July I just turned the television off and decided that all the news was so contradictory, and I could no longer find a source that I trusted. I could not see objectively any longer. The line between friend and foe (as far as the media was concerned) had become blurred. I was doubting much of what they claimed to be correct and true reporting. It seemed like everyone had an agenda. Agenda is an old word. We call it a “narrative” now. Cute word, but the same evil.
All that has been happening in the world coincided with a crisis in my photography. I am not talking about an “it is all pointless” crisis; but rather, where do I go from here? I had been working on two or three themes for the past two years and it appeared that they were at their end.
I debated getting back to my roots. A four by five-inch view camera, sheet film and pick up that journey again before I started my digital journey. A quick search on the internet made it clear I would not rekindle that flame; I would need to start the fire. All the film and chemistry I used back in the eighties are not available to buy. The only sheet film and developer on the market was knock offs I have never heard of before. I was at a dead end again.
So, when nothing else works you pull out the wild card…ROAD TRIP!
I decided that a weekend on the road would be a good thing. Spend some money that I did not have, spend a weekend on mundane images of landscapes, waterfalls, and the changing seasons, eat food I did not have to prepare, spend some time with my wife. Basically, come back home with two hundred images of questionable value but at least get fresh air and catch up time with my wife. It was not a total waste of time and effort. But I did not glean a new direction from this outing.
So, now I have been considering a sabbatical from the camera. I have been going non-stop for over four years taking images for pay or for myself. What I really need to do is stop and put more thought in my next steps. Take a week or two and brainstorm about new portfolio ideas. Or photograph without any theme at all. Just capture what my eye sees and live with the discovery that comes from having an open mind.
Speaking of an open mind. Here in America we could all use an open mind. Like my photography, we are at an end like never. There is no middle ground to stand on any longer. You are either for a cause, or you are against that cause. But just like my “I do not know” dilemma; perhaps we Americans (and maybe the human race as a whole) have always been polarized, and certainly this pandemic (coupled with unemployment, social distress, and the entire COVID-19 stressors) has brought out our lesser nature.
I have heard it said,
“Tough times bring out the best in people.”
I would counter that with my thought,
“Tough times bring out what resides in our hearts.”
I came back from that road trip with about three, or four images that made my personal cut. That is not bad, really. If I get one that I can call “good” it was well worth the effort and time. I share two of them with you today.
It is good to be back behind the keyboard of a laptop computer and I have made a vow to get back on track with this blog. I have been gone far too long. I wish you health and wellbeing in these days to follow.