I am grateful to be a witness to the lives of my friend's children, to share in their joys and triumphs, especially savoring the simple cadence of their days, the humans they are, and the development of a friendship of our own.
As you recount your professional glories, my pulse begins to race, and the ease that took me from Bradford to Franklin slips away as recollections of phone calls started while making dinner that lasts well after dessert. This routine I know. Correction knew. And when you share the sense of accomplishment that comes from enjoying the simple things in life, the relief to both of us is palpable. When I ask you what makes you feel accomplished now in this life of earned pause after years of relentless rigor, I can't help but smile. Painting of your front porch chairs, building your potting shed and planting your tomatoes pale in pride against, of all the things, stringing your clothesline.
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.
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.
This place has been the backdrop for precious instants in the time log of my life. Amongst them, the last time we were all together in California when I road this Ferris wheel with you. That was 2012. There have been summers and visits since, but this iconic view always reminds me of that trip with the entire family. This photo, patiently crafted with subtle monochrom shadings, is a far cry from the pictures of that day. Those are bright carnie colored snapshots of Pacific Park thrills chased down in the fleeting fervor that the moment might pass. And while this is a photograph I will share amongst my community of photographers, it is the latter, all these years later, that tugs at my heart.