I look for solace in the small places: the space between paragraphs, the pause between notes. And in photographs. Not to put too melodramatic a spin on it, but it's where I've tried to keep my head these past few days. It's been hard, and when I've tried to look at my photos, and open them up to do work on them, my head just hasn't been there. And that, mes amis, makes so sense at all. Knock it off.
So I sat down to my blog today to engage my stream-of-consciousness hyperdrive, and the effort so far has had a palliative effect on my mood (bourbon, by the way, has been no help whatsoever and God knows I tried). But my mind keeps going back, over and over, to that mentor of my youth and life-long inspiration, Ansel Adams. And I think I know why.
There's something deeper in his story, something more compelling in his message than the lovely black & white photographs hanging in museums, and it has something important to teach us even now, maybe especially now. What keeps going through my head are the accusations by his contemporaries that as the world was falling apart, he was taking pictures of rocks. True, as World War II was erupting, he took some of his most beautiful photos, but he also immersed himself in a project of photographing the Japanese internment camps: the harsh conditions, the faces, the stories. He shows us that the twin pillars of his passionate causes -- environmentalism and social justice -- are inextricably and intimately bound up together, and he gave to them a powerful voice. He wasn't avoiding the great challenges of his day, he was meeting them head-on.
My anxieties, my inactivity, are entirely of my own doing. The recent events of this unparalleled election have disconnected me from the very thing that has always held my place in the universe. Yes, the world is both beautiful and ugly, and Adams understood that. The yin and yang of beauty and ugliness is the central fact of our lives. If you and I, like Adams, keep trying to find those beautiful places and giving voice to them, it'll help make sense of most everything else.
Rocks and all.