Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Toting a camera has become second nature to me. Why? For starters, a simple shot like this.
First of all, these days pix are free--a thousand of 'em, ten million for that matter. Sure, there's the entry fee for a decent camera, but that was true long before anyone could pronounce the word "digital." In photography, like most electronics, the end of the world these days is impossibly far away because this, my friends, is the real Golden Age. Today, an idiot can buy a terrific camera for considerably less than $50 and do things with more precision and grace than anything even a good amateur could do for twice that much--no, three times--a decade ago, in film. Look at it mathematically--if a million monkeys take a million shots at Yosemite, one of those shots ought to look something like an Ansel Adams.
But that's engineering and economics. Big deal. Why have I become a toter? There are real spiritual reasons.
Check out this shot. Some would say this is nothing more than an ordinary roadside weed--and it is. It's blessed with a wonderful name--Goat's Beard--but there have to be millions of them thriving all around Siouxland, none of them planted, all of them big, lolling, volunteer puff balls. They're little more than a dandelion on steroids, but if you look at 'em right, they're gorgeous, even though they seem almost perfectly colorless. In the right light--like this golden dusk--standing up against a dark background, they'll take your knees out with their sheer beauty. They're just stunning.
I tote a camera these days because you simply can't tell when sheer beauty will come up and smack you across the face. And I need that--beauty that is. The slap I can do without--although sometimes I need that too.
I need it because cynicism's open arms are too ready a solace these days. Maybe it's me, getting older. Maybe it's our particular brand of polarized politics. Maybe it's my DNA or the perils of drinking city water. Who knows why? All I know is that catching Goat's Beard in gorgeous light is dang good for me--for my eyes, for my heart, for my soul. It's a blessing to look for beauty. It's meditative.