It’s where I pause that I’m most happy. Many of you, I’m sure, know what I mean.
I’ve noted when I shoot, I tend not to include people. I grew up in Chicago’s suburbs, so I’ve had my fill of people and traffic and stoplights and terrible architecture. I like people, and sometimes I feel lonely, but I get overwhelmed in large groups. I do better in those more solitary places.
That’s where I’m happy.
I’ve commented to my wife that this is the closest thing I have to church. I’m what you might call a secular Buddhist, and these are my moments to refresh. There’s something about the sun and the water, too, that shows so much more force than the land alone can.
What we do with photography is capture those moments of happiness and anguish and meditation and action. There’s something beautiful about all of life. But I find the most happiness when I get to sit and consider. Maybe with my radio on, maybe just with the waves ripping ashore. No two nights like this are the same. The waves can be huge, or the lake can be completely silent. It can be frozen to a half-mile out. It can be pounded flat by the greyness above.
The world is a beautiful place, and that makes me happy. I’m reminded of A.E. Houseman’s line, “And since to look at things in bloom / fifty springs are little room / about the woodlands I will go / to see the cherry hung with snow.” Even those of us who are young must grab onto each of these moments.
As a last thought on how the world goes on when we sit a few moments out, and how it will go on after us: one of my favourite songs is Fluke’s “Atom Bomb.” Kind of a driving, dark electronic number from the late nineties, it feels like something is happening. It’s population-dense. At the end of the song, it fades out, sounding like the song is a parade passing you by. What comes next is something not colder, but not warm, either. The heaviness is gone after the refrain sets.
Fifty springs are little room.