birthdays

The Elusiveness of Time

The elusiveness of time, evanescent, vanishing like vapor before me along a trail from instant to infinite, marking the minutes in between, the pauses I make, those I earned and those not taken. I meander through my photographic catalog, encountering landscapes lush and verdant, followed by arid desert sunsets and horizonless sea views, searching for what this intoxication of reminiscence might teach me. My curiosity turned inward, seeking answers to what my eyes see and my heart feels. This year, my threshold year, I have chosen to point my lens at language, at intersections where words and image merge, to hear what I cannot see, to see what I cannot hear. The voices of earlier incarnations echo, and their messages ring profoundly as I edit the redundant and revisit the lessons of my beautiful ordinary life, knowing the equilibrium of years is forever out of favor, as I become my oldest self.

There was a time, not long ago, when there were no unaccounted-for hours and living life reverberated in triple time, schedules and meetings, commutes, the exhaustive demands of excess, and most debilitating, the decision to live apart while chasing the dream of more. It was a chorus of ‘buts' and ‘ands' strung together in the finite progression of a lifetime: this and that, here and there, but if not for that, yes, but. The conjunctions of the time-starved human, doing more with the unrelenting fixed and metered increments of seconds, minutes, hours—hours that too quickly become days and days that string rapidly to years. Moments that are mindlessly lost along the path from instant to infinite.

The impetus for my new life was my father's passing in January of 2015, the urgent awakening from a life of should to a life of could. Passages and transitions, first his and then mine, and the consequential spiritual assignments that took me years to understand, much less graciously accept. Our accounts were clear by the time his story ended, and his passing left me intolerant of sacrifices that kept me from what I loved, the man, the place, the life. I know he is proud of me for following my heart, for choosing a different life, for being fearless and bold. This truth I feel in my bones and know to be true for he and the universe send affirmations and I, in repayment, have become a better listener, a more confident shepherd of my life.

I began this threshold year with the question of how many years constitute this lifetime? My lifetime. I unapologetically cross this Rubicon of my own definition, sentimental and vulnerable. A renewed sensitivity emerges from the wisdom born out of facing fears and outliving them and the certainty that if I am to make myself available to the goodness the universe has to offer, I must make conscious choices about time and how I spend it.

Chuck began this threshold year with the question of how I wanted to celebrate this life of mine. There were discussions about destinations, invitations, tequila, party hats, choices along the razor's edge of relationships in the wake of age, wisdom, accomplishment, and fear. My realization came slowly, thoughtful and deliberate, and made sense to the woman I am and the life I have chosen. The only one with whom I wanted to take the journey was the one whose footsteps were a constancy beside me on the path. The crossing of this threshold would be like so many others in our life together, intimate and personal. We would revel and remember the good fortune that delivered us to each other all those years ago and celebrate the life we crafted, witnesses of ourselves. Him. I would spend it alone with him. As for the others, the coterie of female friends who are the helium of my days, lifting me up and carrying me along on the breezy goodness of their light, would accompany us on our way through the year, sharing experiences and celebrations on an intimate but fantastic scale.

These are the stories shared here, the ones about crossing thresholds, beginning at endings when the finish line is really the starting line. It is about celebrations, friendships, family, and the sextants that assisted in the navigation of this narrows. This year is the incandescent intersection of wisdom and dreams brighter than any star in that darkest of night skies and resonant each and every day I walk this planet.

September 5, 2018

Today is the culmination of a year of adventure, reflection, joy and I am immensely grateful for it and all the ones that have come before.  As part of the celebration, another dear friend, who has been a North Star these last years, sent me this piece written by David Whyte. in the last paragraph he beautifully articulates how I have come to think of friendship, and of the people whose images are included below.  

The first photo of me in the gallery was taken by Sam Abell, a friend, an inspiration, and one of the photographic standards to which I aspire.   It is a photo of me taken this year, as I am today.  The second photo is how I was then, a long way back before I made my life.    It was Patrick that noticed I was holding a brownie camera in the photo.  Perhaps photography was always a calling but one I found later in life.  With that gift of that first Olympus Camera 8 years ago, came a greater peace with the universe and my place within it.  I am so thankful photography found me, and I it, by way of my witness in life, Chuck.

I have no anxiety about this threshold birthday for I grew more as a human in my 50's than any of the decades preceding it, fully expect to do the same in the next one and I am excited to experience what that is going to be.  Thank you to all who have made this journey such a blessed and spectacular one.  

Jen

FRIENDSHIP

Friendship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die…

Friendship is the great hidden transmuter of all relationship: it can transform a troubled marriage, make honorable a professional rivalry, make sense of heartbreak and unrequited love and become the newly discovered ground for a mature parent-child relationship. 

The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence…

Friendship transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on. 

But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

David Whyte