Friday, May 30, 2008

graduation, the moment of truth

somehow i was never there, not for grade school, high school, or college. and i have to admit, part of it was pride. i didn't want to be one of the herd. however, like about everything else in my life i'm now suspicious of my motives. fears played a large part. i used to have a knot in my stomach at parties, felt inadequate at social gatherings, hankered for a good book when i felt i had to make small talk.

"we spend too much time worrying about what other people think." all too true. must be part of our survival instinct, the need of the pack, the fear of banishment, starving in the desert. and only the other day it occured to me i could simply turn it off. nobody's really thinking about me anyway, much as i might like to wish they were.

so, back to graduation. i've more than made up for it in the last few years: grade school, high school, and many times college. true, i still feel ambivalent about education. is it really a training in timidity, rats adapting to the maze? can you really be an artist (certainly you can a dentist, social worker, engineer) as a result of courses in composition, color, timing?

robert henri in 'the art spirit' insists all education is self-taught, the school merely an opportunity and obstacle. hmm, certainly the case in my town. the one thing in life that will get you by is the work ethic, whether you apply it to flight-school or the dice. and that's what i mean (mostly) about the moment of truth. it's when you suddenly have to pay your own bills, can't call your folks for a check or a loan. cold water, o boy, cold water it is.

by not having children or buying a house, driving old cars, i've managed to avoid mortgages and debts. it's still pure luck and good luck is all i've ever asked for. my own moods, inclinations, desires have taken up so much of my energy i wonder how other people take upon themselves the cares of others. reading '511 things only women understand' i'm not surprised at my impatience. do we all start out as wild animals having to be domesticated?

last sunday i took more graduation pictures. bored by the repetition of old themes, i transformed them into something else. have a look:

and then take a peek at pics from the county fair, another favorite event, taken two days before. someday i hope to figure out what i really have to say. then maybe i'll graduate to the next level!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dancing while i can

the crisis is past, at least some kind of crisis. the echocardiogram showed a normal heart with a blip in one of the valves (wonder to see it beating, the four chambers). on the stress-test runway i lasted nine minutes as it ran faster and steeper. my pulse remained low, as did the pressure of blood. thus, my body's stable, even at this age, my many prior terrors all for naught.

true, i did visit the hospital three times where my friend karma lay with an opened chest and five bypasses created with veins from his leg (his birthday within three weeks of mine). up and down the halls were blatant signs of mortality and for awhile in the world everyone look like a corpse waiting to happen!

gradually that passed. karma's home, stronger every day. in three months they say he will be able to do everything he once could, including trekking in the himalayas. still, i can't forget what la rochfoucauld wrote,"few people know how to be old." and to pull myself up i photographed dancers. amazing how young they've become, even in the three years since i took the class myself.

i tried out a couple of older digital cameras to test their merits. of course, they're slower than the latest product, however they seem to have a better image quality, the pictures full of intimacy and emotion. why have today's models lost the capacity to capture these?

even before driving up the mountain yesterday and fighting the wind to carry boxes of books into the tower, my spirits had risen. the night before i'd attended the final lecture of a favorite teacher, jim mcmanus, an expert in the life and works of marcel duchamp. at the end the students gave him a standing ovation. in the final tally that's what matters, what others have learned from us.