we spend so much time walking the fine line of fitting in and sticking out that it’s tiring. photography is not only a metaphor but a means to illustrate this need. just look at instagram and facebook and the importance put on the amount of “likes” someone receives for their efforts of trying to shoot a different “selfie” (that fucking word is abhorrent). “Look at me, I’m an individual…I hope you like my individuality so much that I am accepted by you…but maybe above you, definitely not below you, just like me for being so different, yet not so different that you don’t accept me…” it must be hellish to be young and try to navigate the constant need for relevance in a social sphere that is built on irrelevance of self on any real level–outside of selling us more page views, clicks and new shoes, socks, supplements and hamburgers. i’m waiting for the backlash where we all decide we don’t want anyone to see what we are doing instead of the need for validation of everything we do. so yeah, here’s some bikes.
cliche’, sure, it’s the journey, not the destination, etc. and so on. but it’s true. as i continue to age (for some damned reason) i am more and more aware of this old, tired fact. now to just slow down and live a little more of my life with this recognition at the top of my mind.
we, as spectators, get spoiled by professional athletes, musicians, artists, actors, dancers, etc. by how they make their chosen craft look effortless and at times just plain, easy. but we’re smarter than that right. the hours of practice, sweat, blood and want make it so much more than we could ever see.
i don’t claim to be much more than a sports fan, i’m no expert on the intricacies of what it takes to be “next level” but i do think upon thoughtful study of sport, be it soccer, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball – you get the point – the ability to accurately anticipate opponents’ intentions is a requisite skill that separates “great” athletes from “good” athletes. youth soccer players with that ability to see the next play before it develops, then willing that play to develop are the game changers. it doesn’t happen at the same rate with young footballers, it’s a process to have a team get that mind-meld where they all begin to anticipate what’s next and react accordingly. i know as a fan, it’s sure fun to watch it come together. it’s art.
i have a thought pertaining to art, music, sport…
if you are any good at all, then you know that you can be better. i played some football in my youth, screamed in a band, took some photos, talked for hours a day on the radio, made some art, wrote some words, basically i failed at a whole litany of “things.” i can honestly say i was never that good at any of those “things,” but i was good enough to understand that i needed to improve, and that i could. now with young boys, there’s an ego, there’s a “i’m the best at this” attitude that helps drive them. you never want to smother that, but you do want them to understand that there really never is a “best.” you are in charge of pushing yourself to this unobtainable notion of an invisible measuring stick. now, you can use stats, or the eyeball test, or success as a gauge in anything your are doing but none of those things truly can give you a scale to mark your personal “better.” i am proud that boy #1 and boy #2 manage to push themselves to be better in so many ways. there’s maturity there that i didn’t possess at their ages when it comes to drive and fortitude. that’s kind of a big deal. it’s serving them well.
when i snap a frame at a soccer match, i think i am trying capture a story in 1/500th of a second that speaks to “getting better.” i doesn’t always work, it maybe never works as a public narrative–but to me, what i see here is a boy, who looks more like a man, compared to the opposition. he is running towards a ball not in the frame, and he has already beaten a pair of kids mentally, they are giving up, he isn’t. he doesn’t know they have, he doesn’t care whether they have or not. he has focus, he is finding a maturity. he sent me a text the night before a full weekend of soccer matches, it said, “i don’t even care. like i literally could be playing against college kids or a 2-year-old. i really don’t care at all.” he is making his soccer game, about his role, not about others. he’s getting better.
Melancholy in a capitalist, like the appearance of a comet, presages some misfortune to the world.
Not to say I am anti-capitalism, or melancholic but I do suffer both those traits on occasion. It’s a pity travel is for the rich in the century where we can do so many other things with relative ease and sometimes on the cheap. upon hearing of Pete Seeger’s passing, (american activist, agitator, singer of folk songs, songs for folks who work and those who hate war) i was reminded of the fact he dropped out of Harvard in 1938 to ride a bicycle across america. people used to do remarkable things for the sake of being free. now we do remarkable things to line our pockets and be on TV.
photography — with all the advances, the fact that “everyone” has access to a rather sophisticated camera on their phone, and more importantly a real willingness to use it — still relies on some tried and truisms to work as a tool of interest and art. light sure helps. shadows, too. i like lines, and if we’ve learned anything from the internet it’s that girls in a photo are capable of making said photo, er, better. or something. anyway, this wasn’t taken with a digital camera of any kind. instead taken with a Diana, with film, at the Arch in St. Louis. looks like a few people were suspect of me using this device by the stares gathered in this one frame. i guess i should have pointed my phone at them.
whether or not you buy into the whole “it’s a new year, i’m gonna make wholesale changes” narrative that comes with flipping the calendar or not, there’s some to be said for striving to make the next year better than the last. it does kind of suck that you have to motivate change in the middle of the damned winter though. i mean really, it’s 7 degrees and i’m supposed to feel some form of renewal? grade me on a curve, please.
sunny day at the St. Louis arch.
as the holiday is upon us the end of the year is nigh. as the Counting Crows once churtled, “maybe this year will be better than the last.” it’s safe to say we can say that every year. here’s to you and yours if i don’t talk at you before Christmas and New Year’s.