As I look through my folders of photographs from all the places we've been, there is a short list of things that constantly pop up in my favorite shots. And I'm not sure why. I have a thing about trees, as I'm told many people do, and I'm often captivated by the simplest sapling, if the light hits it right. Trees symbolize growth to me, I suppose, and strength that originates from a very small and fragile place. While in college, Kelly and I once sat down at the dining table to make inspirational magnets. One of them said, "Billy Blanks wants YOU!" to remind us to do our Tae Bo. Another was a simple ink sketch of a tree that I drew, underneath writing in all lowercase letters the word, me. Before moving to Italy I drew a picture of a very substantial tree with roots coming deep beneath the ground from the body of a person. While living in San Piero, I started its painting version, which upon completion will feature this phrase: "All things strong grow from something broken." It's something I believe. Maybe I'm a tree, or want to be. Figuratively. One of the things I hated most about myself in my adolescent years, and slightly beyond them, was my belief that I was weak. I've always been deeply in touch with my emotions, and grew up believing this to be a severe fault. After all, there is no room for reason when emotions are involved, right? You're not supposed to discipline a child when you're upset, for you might act too harshly. My dad always told me, in the midst of a disagreement, that I needed to calm down before we could continue, that I wasn't being rational because I was emotional. That always fueled my anger, but now I get it. He was right, but you can't tell a pissed off teenager that. So maybe these two balancing forces cannot work at their best simultaneously, but I think they're equally as valuable. Now I know that feeling as deeply as I do is a gift, something which allows me to experience things on a level many people do not. Good and bad, I feel it to my bones and as I grow older, I'd like to think I'm learning how to better handle such things, and how to learn from them. I am not without reason; I'm actually quite logical most of the time, but what I feel is what inspires me, and what inspires me teaches me more about life and the world around me. So I'm glad to be an emotional person, a word that once felt like such a curse to be called. And I now understand that I do have strength, and that emotion and being strong do not sit across the table from one another, but can share a bench. Maybe I was weak at one time, but allowing myself to break like I did, albeit a bit too much, also allowed for stronger bonds to take the places of the cracks left behind. Skin scarred over is a thicker skin, but can also be a wiser one. So with roots reaching deeply into the soil finding home, a strong trunk, and eager branches reaching in every direction, including the sky, maybe I am the trees I draw.
Benches. Not just benches, benches surrounded by trees. I take pictures of benches along pathways. A resting place along a road with an unseen destination, or end. A piece of man left to rest among nature with its bright, red paint. An artist's perch while they take in a moment. An opportunity waiting for someone to stop for a while. Why does a bench make me stop and take a photograph? I'm not really sure. Maybe I'm seeking solitude when they strike me, for a moment alone here is a very different thing from sitting with company. I know that seems a simplistic statement, but I cannot experience the same peace if someone else were to share this bench with me. When I see it, I see quiet and I see myself writing as the air moves like whispers through the trees and the birds call to one another.
And lamps, I'm always taking pictures of lamps. Street lamps along a canal, lamps hanging from the sides of buildings or over entrance ways, these nab my eye, if not for a picture then at least for a moment of inspection. Let's analyze this one, shall we? Lamps, light, shining light on a path that must be dark for the lamp to be necessary, so a guiding light to find he way, the way...to what? To where? As a child whenever an airplane flew overhead, a tiny speck that softly roared down at me from so far away, I stopped and watched while a strange but soft shiver came over me. It felt familiar, that's the best way I can describe it. And the thought of riding on an airplane got me excited like I was going to Disney World. I liked to imagine the places I could see with that airplane leading the way, taking me there. Down unseen paths to a future that is quite honestly turning out more fantastic than I had even imagined. I think even if I have found my path, I will always be curious and intrigued to seek out more, to see more, to experience more. To be more. Maybe it'll be by the light of one of these lamps.