ImageGuy

My photography, my art, my thoughts.

The Meaning of Life

My daughter gave me a weekly subscription for a year to write answers in the form of stories or relate feelings, memories, etc. based on a single question. We reached the end of the subscription with a final question “What do you think is the meaning of Life?” It’s a pretty broad question when you think about it and the older I get the more plain and simple it seems to get. So I responded…

Life is what it is. Life exists. Life evolves. Life’s purpose is to continue.

In the last several years it has become more resolved in my mind that we are here only by the happenstance of evolution. We are not special, at least in the biblical sense, that God has put us here as the center piece of everything. That’s just human ego. We want to think we are special. And, in many ways, we are, some good, some not. We are because we have advanced brains that have developed and evolved to the point of logic and problem solving, that over thousands of years have built and flourished in complex civilizations. The rapidity of our development as a species has given us dominion over the planet, which is contrary to nature and science. So now we are realizing the damage we are doing and some are sounding the alarms. But too many are beyond caring. Too much has been altered to return balance.

Nature exists in balance. When something in nature becomes out of balance, such as a species over population due to weather abnormalities, nature will increase the predators and find a way to control the over population. Nature may do the same with insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses, diseases, and evolutionary changes in genetics. Nature seeks balance, and in the same turn, provides all that is necessary to achieve it. Until human intervention. Humans are the main obstruction to natural balance.

There is much discussion about consciousness. Are we the dominant species because of consciousness? Is consciousness unique to humans. Some say, today, that perhaps everything has consciousness. Certainly we can see in mammals the similar behaviors that echo human feelings and family traits. In our communications with our own pets, do we not come to feel they understand, feel love and hurts and loneliness and joy, have memories, and dreams. They problem solve, they protect, they share affection. You see the same interactions and behaviors in other species, elephants, whales, birds, fish. So why not corals, or spiders, or plankton? Is consciousness what makes us human, or what connects us to the universe? Is consciousness a spiritual achievement, or the curse of the higher primate?

The reality is, there are countless trillions of stars, galaxies, planets, extending beyond our conception and understanding. Recent admissions by the government actually affirm the possibility that we are already being visited by someone far more advanced than we. The entire planet we are on was once ruled by giant reptiles. At some point in Earth’s evolution, it will likely rid itself of humans as the ruling species, as nature will always seek balance.

As the space-based telescopes have opened our eyes as to how small and insignificant we are in the total scheme of things, I cannot believe we are the center of it all, or the only life. I believe that if we could shrink ourselves to the smallest levels of atoms and molecules, we would find the only difference is time. Very small moves very fast. Very large, as in universe, moves very slow. But it is only a matter of perspective, where in the mix you are. And where ever you are, the speed seems normal. It’s like walking inside a rail car while hurtling down a track. I like to think of the earth as a molecule with an electron spinning around it. We are a simple, small element. And we are part of a fabric that stretches forever and is simply a part of another larger organism, or mineral, or gaseous cloud floating on a much grander stage. And that if we could shrink to the size of a nucleus in an atom, we might find growing on its surface, all manner of life, only sub-molecular life. With consciousness.

Is there really meaning?  I believe the meaning lies in nature. The meaning is to survive, and spend the life span that is given to each of us doing what nature intended. That is growing, learning, reproducing, and dying. What we do as a species to enrich that time provides the pleasures and rewards that make the time enjoyable, and by way of consciousness, meaningful.

XXX,

Dad

We’ve Become Too Accepting of Death

Today is a day of great sadness in America, having topped the milestone of half a million people now having succumbed to the Covid virus. We sit silently in awe of the number, and yet it has passed by us almost like the weather or the stock market. So many of us who have been fortunate enough to avoid this deadly bug have gone about our lives fearful and guarded and separated. It is a lonely way to live. But we have survived. And millions more have been touched deeply by loss of someone close, who did not need to die this year. Can you imagine if we had been drawn into a new war somewhere in the world and had lost half a million soldiers in only a year. I believe the country I grew up in would have taken to the streets in mass all over the nation to stop such a horror. Yet somehow, because so many of these lives disappeared behind hospital walls and in nursing homes, because these people were old, or vulnerable, or had no celebrity, because they died mostly alone except for a nurse, or a cell phone, they have been quietly drifting by us, ghost like, touching that spot in us that feels so helpless.

Some continue to complain because they are asked to simply protect themselves and at least not endanger others. Yet, in the new American arrogance of the individual who feels they have to stand up and scream like a five-year-old, “you’re not the boss of me”, such childish selfishness should have been erased by the time they were adolescents. Until parents teach their children that they have responsibilities as human beings in a community, the defiance of immature individuals will interfere with the well-being and security of all Americans. We have spent four years learning to distrust, distracted by ridiculous drama on the grandest scale, while half a million American citizens of all families and communities passed from our lives and we are all the poorer for it.

Please wear your mask and get vaccinated. Be safe.

Imageguy

Why is Nature trying to kill us?

WHY IS NATURE TRYING TO KILL US?

The only thing more threatening to us than politics at this time is the Corona virus. Through the year of “everything that can go wrong has gone wrong” to bring us to the worst-case scenario, we are now faced with a country where the virus is out of control, killing people in LA at the rate of four an hour. My own sister, Covid positive, was sent home, then denied ambulance service to return to the hospital in northwest Atlanta. The vaccine is there, but with no cohesive plan nationally to distribute it, other than “give it to the states and let them figure it out”. So, vaccine sits waiting for the way-over-stressed medical community to just get off their lazy asses and start poking people.  We are our worst enemy.

The country is so divided politically, emotionally, philosophically, culturally. The red hats with guns and the rebel flag and the pick-up trucks and the rude shouting at young people trying to do a difficult job and the “I don’t have to do it because I’m an American and I have rights” people who are so enamored with narcissism that they would cause an entire plane load of people to be forced off an airplane just to say, “you can’t make me wear a mask”. I am sorry. But I have had all I can take of the rudeness, the hatred, the racism, The selfishness, the brutality, the false Christians, the hypocrisy, and the lack of understanding among educated people, that we are all part of a system and no one can live in this system without contact and influence in the lives of those around you. It is an abandonment of responsibility. Too much greed. Too much tolerance for a lack of civility and humanity. This is a world capable of the most magical and amazing developments. But as human beings we are constantly bent on a path of self-destruction. And as the dominant creature on the planet, there is little there to control that destruction.

My theory is…enter Nature. We, as a species, have the capability to produce anything. When I saw the rockets of SpaceX landing back on the launch pad, like a 60’s sci-fi adventure, but real. It was like watching the first manned orbit. That same excitement and amazement at what could be accomplished. At my age I have seen incredible technological advances. I grew up in the era of cars with 6-volt batteries and straight shift on the column and tires with tubes. I remember the development of the hand-held calculator and the transistor radio, the touch tone phone, we had bikes with coaster brakes, black and white TV and 45 RPM records. My first computer was a monster with 64K of ram and two floppy drives. This world could produce solar power world-wide, with power from waves, and wind. Enough to power everything we need. We have the technology to raise enough food to feed the world’s populations. I believe tiny Denmark grows more food than the country can eat and feeds a huge part of Europe. Agriculture, industry, science and research need to evolve with the needs not only of the humans, but of the entire planet. The entire system.

This will take an enormous change of attitude among the people of the world. Some of us believe that educating young people on this goal is the key, but the control of education, ideas, curriculum, research, the setting of goals for the nations and the world, these things require major commitments from leaders and the population. Humans seem hell bent on avoiding this, or at least creating a riot while avoiding change. We over fish the oceans, using massive factory ships. We spend massive amounts of energy and resources to create food for animals that then become food themselves, and create massive pollution in doing so. Where ever you turn, you can find a way we have damaged our planet while suiting our own desires and ends.

Nature has a remarkable way of controlling the system when you look at the evolution of species on this planet. Everything in nature is by design. From cell structure, to physical form and appearance, to colors and patterns, to evolutionary development and natural behaviors. The hierarchy of species, how smaller creatures feed larger creatures, and how insects co-exist with plants to the benefit of both. How the destruction of one organism is designed to benefit the life of another. These are all things that nature designs to stay in harmony and balance on the planet. We are part of that evolution, yet our brain development has led to a species that is capable of interrupting the natural paths of nature. By altering the flow of rivers and changing the atmosphere, and forcing extinctions by destruction of habitat, and such efforts, we have also altered the balance required to maintain a livable environment.

When nature experiences something that alters the path, nature makes correction. This is evolution. When there is a year of abundant rain, that feeds the natural seeds, such that the population of mice grows, nature will then provide an abundance of fox pups to control these multiplying mice. And so, it goes up and down every chain, except in the case of humans.

So as nature attempts to control the ever-burgeoning population of humans on the planet, who have devised ways to shelter from weather and storms, to build structures in the most hostile locations, who have learned to find water in the desert and heat on mountain tops. We are defiant of control, even by nature. But as anyone who has owned a home on the coastal shores will tell you, the power of nature is not to be denied.  Ask any dinosaur.

So, if I were in nature’s shoes, I would be looking at this planet system and saying, something is way out of whack. So, what can we do to stop these humans. And a virus looked like a good alternative. Storms don’t seem to work since they have pretty good houses. And you just can’t get to everybody easily. Plus, we hurt other animals and such in the process. Fires worked pretty well this year, but humans are cagey and can move fast so they escape and we just end up hurting the forest. So, we need something that doesn’t require specific planetary guidance. We need something that they will just give to themselves without assistance. Not only that, but something that would spread quickly and that there was no known avoidance. Make it easy to spread. All they have to do, is breathe in and breathe out, which they do normally, especially at sports events. That will be easy.

So out of nature’s pocket comes Covid-19. Not only is this a crafty little predator, if you do something to make it harder on this smart-ass he just changes, evolves, to combat the road block.

Nature is pissed off and I don’t blame her. The Native Americans believe we have a responsibility to this earth that is our mother. Species will arrive, evolve, and perish based on their willingness to be a part of the system. We are all star dust, as is everything around us. We have simply evolved as specific organisms in nature. And our own evolution has put us in peril, not to mention the species that have vanished as a result of our being here. We have a chance like every generation before us to school the young to understand their place in the survival of this planet and the living things on it. We are not separate. We are a necessary part. But we are out of balance. We have our place, but have over stepped our boundaries. We owe Nature our attention. We have lost sight of our purpose and our humanity. Nature will continue to slap our hand until we look inside and understand. And Nature will continue in spite of us, and without us if necessary.

Happy New Year! Be safe. Wear your mask.

Say, I see! 

Imageguy

It’s A Pisser Getting Old

 

I’ve recently experienced watching a close friend’s parents reach the ends of their lives. I’ve seen this couple for many years, grow older, slowly lose their freedom, their health, their life savings, their independence, their hope. They went from pride and precision and stability to dependent, and lost, and robbed of their dignity. Her dementia likely shielded her from her ultimate losses. We certainly hoped if she could experience anything within her failing body that it would be a sense of joy or relief as opposed to trapped. His loss of her as a support, a reason, a purpose. And what to do but wait.

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I started out to write this to simply complain about my own aches and pains. But I can see more first hand now how others experience what is inevitable for all of us. I have watched my older sister struggle with hospitalizations as her body has rebelled in many ways. Hip and shoulder replacements, osteoporosis, arthritis, hearing loss. We struggle to stay alive as we approach the end, like sliding down a slippery slope and little passing by to grab hold of anymore.

After weeks of lock down and distancing through this pandemic, I was finally able to return to my massage therapist today.  The relief was amazing. We forget how therapeutic things are until we can’t have them. This applies to anything that gives us pleasure in life. A threat to life is present in the everyday exchange of human interaction and we are forced to accept change. Change in the way we interact with each other. Change in the way we conduct everyday life. Change that forces us to be alert, and suspicious. Change that forces us to see our neighbors differently. The hard part is, how do you let that change affect you? You could assume your neighbor is infectious and shun them, or you could approach them with the feeling of, I am sorry I can’t reach out and touch you, put my arm around you. But I will protect you if I can. We are social primates. We need touch. Isolation causes abnormal behavior.

I’m not ready to die. I will adapt. I will be suspicious of the real enemy. I will do my best not to get complacent. Because I am not ready to die.

I thought today that one of the reasons the US has the largest virus infection and death rate and climbing is because of the American Dream. For centuries we have all grown up in a world of “you can have what ever you want in America”.  You are free. Well of course this isn’t true for the majority of the population. But we all believed it. So, we have become a selfish nation. I will have what I want because I can and you can’t take it away from me. The problem then arises that not everyone wants the same thing, or everyone wants exactly the same thing and doesn’t want anyone else to have it. When I see a huge man screaming like a tantrum consumed toddler that he can’t go down the street and buy a hamburger, it only reinforces the selfishness of one individual. But when I see a president staging a rally where people will be asked (or instructed) to not wear masks with thousands packed in an arena and then be asked to insure they will not sue him, then this has to be systemic. Like a herd of lemmings.

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At my age, I have learned that nothing happens as quickly as you want, except death (but maybe that too). When you are young, getting your driver’s license takes forever, because the anticipation of your first taste of real freedom is approaching. You want a run-away freight train and it’s Thomas the Tank Engine. Then losing your virginity (or maybe you already have crossed that milestone). Then 18, a “proto-adult”. Draft age, but still can’t drink. Can vote, but can’t get in a club. Then 25, (marriage?),30, 40 (alarm), 50 (tired…ready for retired), 60,65 (social security/Medicare/senior citizen discounts), 70,71,72, (shaky), 80……? At this point, the slope is way too steep.

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I’ve always thought that when I got to the point of having lost any real quality of life, that I would be okay with checking out. But where do you draw the line on how much body pain you are willing to sustain, how many medications you take to stay alive, what is the limit of loss of mobility, and there is always the possibility of dementia, loss of mind and body function, or the failure of a single organ.  Could I deal with an oxygen tank? Could I live with dialysis? I love music, what if I lost my hearing? I’ve already been told I am developing cataracts. Unwelcome news to a visual artist. But I have also been told cataract surgery is the most performed surgery in the world. I have friends who have experienced it and say it was an easy process. And they can correct your vision in the process which both delights me and scares me too. Don’t screw with my eyes.

As my hair gets thinner (lucky to have as much as I do at this point) and my skin gets paler and my veins bulge a little more, as my muscles and joints ache and my eyesight and hearing deteriorate, I am still thankful everyday that I can create something no one has ever seen before. That I can sit down and play music on a beautiful instrument. That I can still see the colors in an evening sky. That I can derive joy from making another smile. That’s still quality of life. I am not ready to die.

 

Peace and stay safe. Don’t be selfish, you always get back more than you give.

 

Imageguy

 

photos copyright © George Cannon – Images

 

 

How Close We Come To Death

At a time like this when the world is locked down resisting a deadly microbe and we see young and old succumbing to the attack of this pathogen, we think heavily on our own mortality. How easily it would be to simply touch the wrong place or stand to close to someone and contract a bug that can kill you in a couple of weeks. We are vulnerable, we are unprepared, and we are frightened.

I have been battling with how this distancing and lock-down has affected my life and how for some time I was so anxious, angry, distracted, frustrated, dropping things. I cut myself breaking down a box. And I am realizing what I am most upset about, or at least, what is triggering my disturbed mood is the disruption of my routine. I was really happy with my routine. And now I’ve been forced into a new one. It’s so disruptive and upsetting. So.

Age old question. What can you do about it? What is within your control? First, be prepared. Have what you need close at hand. Stay safe. Listen to the warnings. But what about routine? For the first couple of weeks it has been bat-shit crazy. But I realized that part of what I love about my routine is, when I go to work, I leave at quitting time and come home to my time. And I don’t feel guilty about “my time”. I leave work at work as much as I can.  But now, work has invaded my home space. It is here all the time and I feel compelled to check emails and print invoices and send POs during “my time”. And that’s not fair. So.

I have decided that I’m going back to my routine (granted without photographing people in the studio or having dinner in a restaurant). But my work hours will be my work hours, and I am now giving myself permission not to work on “my time”. Though not working means I still work on my art and practice my guitar (money for nothin’ and chicks for free). I already feel my anxiety levels going down.  But I digress.

This blog is about death, and how close we come every day.  I started watching DEVS on Hulu and was struck by how the show has focused on how everything happens for a reason, there are no random events. How one split second can mean the difference between being alive and being dead in our world and we go about our lives everyday without regard for how vulnerable we are. Certainly we don’t dwell on such things or we’d be hiding in a cave somewhere. But we are vulnerable. How many times have you had an event in your life where you said “that was close” as your heart was pounding. The lightning strike next to the house, or the near auto accident.

When I was about 17 years old, I drove into downtown Atlanta one night with two of my best friends, Doug and Bill. Doug had his mother’s 57 Ford Galaxy that night and we road Ponce de Leon all the way into Atlanta with Doug driving with his elbows. Power steering! We were passed by several fire trucks on the way and decided to investigate so followed them onto Peachtree Street at the Fox Theatre. Down Peachtree the street was blocked and a fire was roaring in a store that sold electric razors. We parked the car and made our way through the crowd and took up a position in front of the hotel across the street to watch the action. There was a sizable crowd of people. As we stood there taking in the spectacle, two fire fighters approached the front of the building to knock out the front windows of the store and ventilate the fire, but moments before they could accomplish this, the entire front widows exploded outward from the pressure inside. The crowd that we were a part of was knocked to the pavement and showered with broken glass and sparks and smoke and burning debris. I was standing with my hands in my jacket pockets. When the explosion occurred, I yanked my hands up so quickly, I ripped the pockets open on my jacket. I fell to the side walk cutting my knees and palms on broken glass. My hair was full of dirt and glass fragments. Doug was knocked through the doors of the hotel.  A photo in the morning paper showed a picture of those doors spattered with blood and peppered with glass shards. All three of us got minor cuts and scrapes, damage to our clothes.  Many people were lacerated badly by the flying glass including the fire fighters. But it was not my day to die.

One day in my early twenties as I drove through downtown on the interstate, I was traveling on a stretch of road where the opposing side was elevated or banked in a way that left that side higher than the roof of my car so looking to my left was mostly a steep bank of grass topped by a guard rail. As I sped through downtown, I head a loud crunch to my left. As I looked all I could see was the underside of another automobile hurtling over the guard rail. It happened in a split-second. As I quickly looked to the rear-view mirror, I saw the car come crashing down into my lane and slowly roll across about four lanes of pavement. My immediate reaction was simply surprise and a bit of an adrenaline rush. It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realized had I been only a second slower, he would have landed right on my windshield. But it was not my day to die.

We really don’t know how close we come every day. One moment of wrong judgement, one accidental step, and life as we know it can change in an instant.

I live in New York, the state with the most cases of Corona virus. Fortunately, I live upstate so we are not as badly affected. Our county currently shows 105 tested positive with five hospitalized and no deaths so far.  People here are trying hard, for the most part, to stay with the distancing and stay-at-home orders. But some people see themselves (and rudely everyone else) as invulnerable so are less considerate.

For myself, I live alone, so isolating is sort of normal for me. I’m fine with it for now. But I am in that elderly population and I have a lot more living that I want to do. So, in the words of the dancing master in Game of Thrones, “What do we say to death?  Not today!”

Stay healthy. Be safe. Live another day. And be thankful for it.

 

Imageguy

 

 

The “Catch 22” of Photography as Art

Photographers that work to sell their photographs as art are constantly faced with a general public that devalues photography. In a world where there are tens of millions of cell phone cameras constantly snap chatting and insta-gramming, the photograph is possibly the most used form of communication on the planet. Seeing is believing, right? But when photography made the jump, like all other current technologies, to digital, it was like an earth quake. This changed, not only, the recording, storing, and delivering of images, it also changed the technician’s ability to manipulate the image in ways that can be creative and break barriers in design and presentation.

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Along with that, unfortunately, comes a mistrust and an opportunity for corruption. That can come in the form of doctored photos that deceive in journalism, or heavily retouched photos in advertising, causing a lack of trust among the public. The tabloids are notorious for this. Before digital, it was very difficult to doctor a photograph without detection. For over a century, a photograph of something was proof of its existence, evidence in court, the true story in the news. Yet painters have always been allowed “artistic license” to paint their ideas and perceptions and memories, and be very subjective in the presentation of their subject matter.

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Photography as art has always been characterized as “of lesser value” because once you had the negative, you could make a hundred copies. But print makers and sculptors have been making multiples of prints and etchings and silk screens and castings for centuries. Contemporary print making today can be done in a myriad of ways. Ansel Adams could have printed a thousand “Moonrise” prints, but he didn’t.

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I feel like the public perception of art having value is often tied to what the artist had to do to create it. A large intricate painting that might have taken months or years, that required a trained artist with a special eye for reproducing what they have seen to labor long hours…to make only this one. The rarity. Therein lies the other point of value. I worked as an artist in stained glass for twelve years and most of my work in those days were all one-of-a-kind pieces.

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So an artist who has not gained notoriety in the gallery market and met the proper people, who is not a recognized name, is met with some suspicion as to the value of their creations. Yet having worked in an art museum for sixteen years, I can testify that many things qualify as valuable in the art realm that hardly deserve the moniker. Often times it seems that simply making it big is all that is required. I have hung shows that contained pipes and spare tires, popcorn, half-filled water bottles hung on wire, stacks of sticks. I realize it’s an artist’s statement. But where do we gauge the value of one expression over another?

My view (and that’s sort of what this blog is about) is that the value lies in the effectiveness of the message and the artist’s skill at communicating that message. Every person’s perception of any artwork will be colored by their own experience, so will likely be different from that of the artist. But is the viewer’s experience of the artwork satisfying, or stimulating, or distressing? Is there a definable experience? I believe if there is, then the art is successful. And if it is successful in creating a valuable experience, then how it is recorded, created, delivered, expressed, is of no consequence in establishing its value. A single line drawing by Picasso can sell for more than an old master landscape. One is a line on paper, the other a canvas that a skilled painter took hours to produce. Both being one-of-a-kind so each a rarity. Both being from talented visionary artists. But a difference in perceived value.

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Much of the art being created today using digital technology can take hours, days, weeks to create. A photograph can be made to look like a painting with brush strokes and the subtleties of a hand painted canvas. It can then be printed onto canvas and can even have a hand textured surface applied to create the surface texture of a painting. This is the technology of today. If this canvas will last centuries like any painting might, if the image, when displayed, is seen and appreciated and enjoyed as a painting in a frame, is the only difference the rarity, or is it the viewer’s perception, reaction, that establish the value? You could print only one. Then you have a level playing field. Becoming skilled as a photographer and as a digital artist can take years of training with major investments in equipment. And just as anyone can pick up a brush and put some color on a canvas, though few are compelled to try, everyone with a cell phone fashions themselves a photographer.

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If a photographer creates an image and prints it on canvas and frames it and hangs it on the wall in a gallery. And if a painter paints a canvas that looks identical, and hangs it on the wall next to the photographer’s canvas. And a person standing twenty feet away looking at both canvases cannot tell the difference between them. Is one more valuable as an artwork than the other, simply because of the way it was produced?

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I have begun producing large canvases of my images. These are called giclée prints. They are printed on museum grade canvas and are printed with archival pigment inks. Because I have the ability to produce any number of prints from one digital image, many see these as “reproductions” when in fact they are “originals”. The digital file is essentially the photographers negative. The recorded data. It is not the artwork. The actual print made from that negative, like a silver print from a film negative, is the artwork original. The artist can choose to make as many issues or prints of a negative or file as they choose, knowing full well that the value of an item can depend on its scarcity. Of course, there must always be demand as well. Something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay.

–– Imageguy

 

All images are Copyright © George Cannon – Images

 

A Tattoo Can Change Your Life

Tattoos were once the identifiers of sailors, and convicts, and exotic misfits of side shows. Today tattoos are body art, adornment, jewelry, fashion statements, symbols of life events or memories, or milestones. I thought about getting a tattoo for a long time. When I was in my twenties I got my ear pierced as an artistic statement. I quit wearing the earring when I was about fifty. It just annoyed me. But I watched my daughter get several tattoos, multiple ear piercings. As a photographer I have photographed a number of beautiful tattooed women. I attended the tattoo show in Syracuse last year looking at various artists’ booths and books of their work. I thought about subject. What statement did I wish to make? What did this mean to me? What design did I want permanently on my body?

I settled on a line of Tibetan Sanskrit calligraphy, the mantra “Om, mani padme houm”. I chose this because visually, the calligraphy itself is so beautiful. And because the mantra is something to center and focus the minds direction when repeated. It translates roughly as, first, “Om”, the sacred syllable, the sound to bring your “self” to a sacred place. “Mani padme” translates to the jewel in the lotus. And “houm” to the achievement of enlightenment.

I printed out a copy of the calligraphy and placed it in a drawer in my studio. I took it out and looked at it often, but it sat in the drawer for three years. When I turned seventy years old, I took out the print and said to myself, what in the world are you waiting for? If you want the tattoo, go and get it. So, the next day I went to the shop in town that had the best online reviews and I made an appointment for the following day and we added my mantra to my left arm.

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After finally getting the tattoo, I felt elated. Why had I waited so long? I loved the way this looked, but still did not know what it would come to mean. While sitting chatting with the tattoo artist, I spoke of another idea I had for the opposite arm. I am a photographer and I shoot with Canon cameras. My last name also happens to be Cannon. I talked about getting another tattoo on my right arm of the Canon logo, and of course his suggestion to me of doing the logo but spelling it like my own name made perfect sense, Duh! So, after waiting three years to adorn myself with the first tattoo, I added the second one only three weeks later. The first tattoo was my serious tattoo. This tattoo was for fun.

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I discovered later, as I stood at the sink one night washing the dishes, that I see both tattoos clearly as I work and they are so satisfying to me to look at. And I as looked at these two tattoos I realized what they symbolize and encourage me to do. The left arm with the mantra reminds me every day to stay focused and grounded and kind. To be compassionate to others. Something I need to hold on to desperately these days when the news every morning can make me so angry and tense and judgmental. But then I look at the other arm. And this tattoo makes me smile, and says to me, “yeah, do that compassion thing, but do it with a fucking sense of humor!”

They have changed my life.

Imageguy

The Threat to Our Spirit

I don’t generally use this blog to say anything political. But what I want to relate is more about what can happen to one’s spirit in the current political climate. In the past year I have made major changes in my life that have not only helped save my own spirit, and by spirit, I mean my happiness, my life force, my willingness to be human and compassionate and grounded on this planet. But what I have noticed is that, so much of the stresses and anger and hostility that was creeping into my everyday life was because of what is happening in this country as a result of this President and all the people who are supporting him and defending his actions and lack of any coherent leadership ability.

I stopped watching the news except to only catch just enough to know what’s going on. I get the Sunday Times. I trust the Times. I also stopped watching as much TV and just don’t have it on most of the time. So often, I would just leave it on in the background at home. But now it’s either music, or silence. As a result of not watching the news and other shows I have no interest in, I have time to play my guitar, or read. But I still often listen to the news in the car while driving. I listen, and I get tense, and I get angry, and I begin to get impatient with people on the road, and I yell at the radio and at the people that are talking. And I get to work with a knot at the back of my neck and my fist clenched.

Here’s what can happen. A couple of weeks before Christmas, I was driving to the local grocery store to get a muffin for breakfast on my way to work. As usual I had the radio on listening to CNN and it was the daily dose of the Washington crazies. Again, it had me angry by the time I turned into the driveway of the store parking lot. It was just before seven in the morning and the parking lot was empty for the most part. I drove down the driveway between the parking spaces, expecting to take the last one on the right, nearest the store entrance. Like most parking lots, the marked spaces are such that as you pull into a space on your side, there is another opposing space in front of you for someone pulling in from the opposite driveway.

As I approached the parking space there was another car entering the parking lot from a lower driveway entrance, driving toward my direction.  I expected he would take the opposite parking space since he would enter from that side, and I began to turn into the parking place on my side of the driveway. Rather than stop at the first parking space he entered, the other driver pulled all the way through taking the spot I was already poised to enter on my side. I had to hit my brakes and actually back up in order to be able to take the next adjacent parking slot. This, of course, really ticked me off and as I pulled in past the other driver I was screaming and gesturing at him in my window to let him know how upset I was at his lack of courtesy.

I went into the store a bit behind him since he exited his car first. As we entered, he turned right through produce and I went left to the bakery. I never saw his face except briefly in the dark through the car widows. As I was walking back to the register, the man approached me in the same isle. I stared straight into his eyes as we neared each other. He looked casual, but then as he neared me he said, “Is there a problem?”. Still seething inside from the episode in the parking lot, I looked straight at him and said, “You’re a fucking prick!” and walked past him. He looked back and simply said, “well have a good day”.

I paid for my muffin and walked out the door into the street light of the parking lot only to find the offending car had already left. It was like a punch in the gut. The man I had just so rudely insulted was not the man from the parking lot. He was a totally innocent person in the store whom I so quickly took out my anger on. I was so humiliated and sorry and ashamed of my behavior. Too ashamed I got in my car and drove on to work. I can never apologize to this stranger. But the lesson for me was monumental and so necessary.

In looking back and understanding the progress of that morning, I have come to see so clearly how the current political climate is destroying the fabric of our society and will ultimately destroy our spirit as well. The needs of this planet, and the needs of humanity have got to become the guiding principle of the future generations if there is to be a future. The anger and divisiveness and lack of compassion that has swallowed our government will damage democracy and affects all our lives in destructive ways. Politicians that thrive on constant reelection by doing favors and making promises to donors while ignoring the fact that they are there to represent not only their donors, but ALL the people of their districts or states, must be replaced. The selfishness and greed and loyalty to party over the best interests of the entire country and the world has to change.

Encourage anyone you know to vote. Please vote. In the interest of saving the nation, the world, and the planet and your own spirit. Australia is burning while the seas are rising and the reefs are dying. More young soldiers are being sent to the Middle East. Whose children are these? Trillions of dollars are spent on war with what resolution other than death and destruction and hardship and profits of defense contractors and oil industries. Nations around the world with foresight are converting their societies to be planet friendly and renewable. The oceans are full of plastics. The Amazon is being destroyed for hamburgers. The world is in crisis and crying out for the salvation of spirit. I treasure the words of native American sages who understood that we are not the owners of this planet, we share it with every other living creature. Our responsibility is to be kind to it and every being and thing on it, to treasure it, and be grateful.

 

Peace.

 

Short Short Stories

I recently came across some writings from about 12 years ago. Thought I would post them.  I call them “Short Short Stories”. This first one is called:

Broken Bread

Jack sat nervously, squirming in his chair like a six-year-old. He fidgeted with the silverware while he scanned the room. He had never done this before, a blind date. His self-esteem was on the line here. Although he felt like he already knew Becky well after so many emails and so much shared information over the internet. Jack was not an unattractive guy, in fact he was what some might consider a pretty good catch. He was in relatively good physical shape for a guy of 40, maybe a little thick around the middle, but still well toned and a fairly good tan. He played tennis and golf, and ran a couple of times a week. His hairline was receding slightly, but by no stretch was he balding. He was a good dresser and drove a two-year-old Pontiac Grand Prix. He had money in the bank and a low interest mortgage on a three-bedroom house in Rochester. He had been single for twelve years, having divorced his first wife after she had a two-year affair with a guy from the tire shop. But he was very nervous about meeting Becky face to face. He hadn’t dated much since splitting with his ex-wife and this was a big step for him. Maybe she wasn’t going to show. She was already fourteen minutes late.

“Can I get you something else while you wait, sir?”

“Um….uh, no….thank you, no….water’s fine…thanks.”

Jack sipped his glass of water to ease his dry mouth. As he looked over the top of the glass he noticed a woman entering the restaurant. It must be her. Becky was dressed in a deep red wrap dress pulled snugly around her petite waist. The front was fairly low cut revealing a slight cleavage and a simple gold necklace. Her hair was up for the warm weather and showed her graceful neck and small ears. Jack thought she was stunning. He took another sip of his water. She looked about and spotted Jack sitting across the room. She smiled and he immediately smiled back with a wide grin. She strode gracefully over to his table and leaned forward as he began to stand.

“Jack?”

“Yes, yes. Becky!”

“Oh, God, I’m so glad to finally meet you.”

She stepped around the side chair and hugged his neck as he stood up. He hugged her back feeling so relieved that she was indeed not afraid to come so close at their first meeting. The apprehension drained from Jack in a moment and they both sat, Becky still holding on to his hand.

“I’m terribly sorry to be late. The taxi was late and I tried to get him to hurry, but…oh well, here I am.”

“It’s fine. It’s fine. Not to worry.”

She asked how the trip up to Toronto was, the traffic is so bad on the Queensway. He commented on how beautiful she looked causing her to blush slightly. They spoke with such familiarity and interest that they almost didn’t notice the waiter. Jack ordered the chicken club with iced tea, Becky, the shrimp salad and a chardonnay. They lingered for about two hours over lunch talking as though they were long time friends that had not seen each other for years. There was chemistry. A definite physical tension. In fact, Jack wanted to kiss her so bad he could hardly stand it. When she looked into his eyes, he could feel the heat rise in his face. Jack felt like a high school boy with his first crush. This woman was perfect. This woman was the one he wanted. And he could tell that her feelings for him were strong as well. They touched again and again at the table and he felt as though he would explode if he couldn’t find someplace to be alone with her. Then risking it all, Jack asked, “I’m going to Chicago in two weeks. Go with, won’t you?”

Jack’s heart was racing. Please say yes.

“I’d love to go with you, Jack. But I’m afraid my husband might object.”

–Imageguy

Everything Has A Story

 

Everything Has A Story

I was standing in the living room tonight looking around at the objects that represent so many years of my life.  And I began to see everything in the room as a story. The furniture pieces each represent not only a period in my life, but transitions in style, and associations with people who have been impactful in my life. There are objects that date back to my childhood. Odd how these few specific things meant enough to cling to them through so many years and transitions. And every single thing can simply take your mind somewhere filled with memories of everything from emotions, to music, to smells, to relationships, to milestones, to meaningful times.

Stories are the things we surround ourselves with to live in the comfort of who we are and how we got here today. They are things that give us pleasure to simply be around. I have, like so many people, a collection of things on my refrigerator. Things that make me smile. Things that remind me to be better every day. And I have another collection strung across the wall behind my work station in my office at home. I look at these stories and can, for a moment, experience the joy of those moments, the satisfaction of something beautiful, the inspiration of a quote.

This “story line” on my wall begins with one of my best friends in the world, closest thing I still have to a brother now. He’s wearing his Indiana Jones hat, a lanyard around his neck with his badge and we are sitting at the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, waiting for the evening light show. I met this guy at a photo workshop week on a farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, August of 1978.  And the story goes on from there.

Next is a picture from the gulf coast of Florida, one of my favorite spots in the world. I first visited there in about 1971. The picture is of a huge billowing cumulus cloud over a small bluff on the beach. There are many branches to this story, but mostly it lets me revisit the warm breezes and the smell of the salt air.

Then there’s a small version of a picture I have framed in my living room. The side of a warehouse/factory in Waverly, NY taken on a summer Sunday morning, just out driving where ever it felt right.

This is followed by a comical picture of my close friend and employer at a trade show after packing up at the end. Tired, hungry, he’s eating a round mint from a small package which he is holding up. The package says FREEMAN. On his forehead is a large warning sticker in bold red letters that says, “EMPTY Do Not Destroy”. A funny story, a stair-step in a long flight of many shows and hotel rooms and meals in over-priced restaurants waiting in airports.

Beside that is tacked an inspiration. “You know those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.” This is my current story.

Then the photo of my daughter in her Cleveland Cavaliers jacket with her long straight blond hair when she was dancing with the Cavs Girls. She was home for a brief stay and I managed to corral her in the studio. Not enough of these stories to suite me these days, but her spirit resides on my wall and smiles at me. One of my favorite photos of her.

On the opposite side of my monitor is another favorite of my daughter. The story here is rich with memories. Cape Cod, standing barefoot on a rock. Wearing a pale blue skirt, white top, long dirty blond hair half way down her back, Maybe nine years old. Sunset at her back. Staring out at the open ocean and pebbly shore. That’s a wonderful story.

Beside it hangs a key ring made in after school program with letter beads that say DAD.

My house sigil hangs next. G-O-T. House Cannon. I adopted the Targaryen three headed dragon. And it bears my motto – Born In Pain – Live In Fear—Die Alone. Now that’s a funny story.

The final item on the “story line” is a wonderful hand made birthday card from an intern who I worked with. She was an art student. And she drew a picture of Jimmy Stuart’s face from It’s A Wonderful Life with a quote from the movie when Clarence told George Bailey, “You’ve been given a great gift George. The chance to see the world without you in it.” She will never know how much I love this card. I’ve probably had it for 15 years and I treasure it as much as any piece of art I own.

Take an afternoon by yourself and just stand in a quiet space and look at the stories around you. The memories, the connections, the experiences, the joy. If the things you surround yourself with cannot tell you stories, then it’s time to create some.

Peace.

Imageguy—

 

 

 

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