Wouldn’t it be nice to spend a whole day just searching for one beautiful thing to remember it by? Sometimes it must be easier than others. But imagine if you collected 365 days of beauty and you could flip through it when you were feeling low, and keep adding to it to keep it – and you – alive.
In mid-July I started snapping photos with my Hipstamatic iPhone app with the idea of doing one a day, every day, for a year. I’ve done these 365 day projects before and I think the farthest I’ve ever gotten was under 200 days. But I figured, what the hell. The worst that happens is I end up with a bunch of interesting photos to string together in a sequence. How can that hurt?
So far I haven’t missed a day. For those who don’t feel like counting that high, today is day 64.* And yes, I have an app to tell me that, too.
But what if I up the ante for these next 301 days? What if I say to myself that I will photograph one beautiful thing every day with my fake toy camera (phone)? What will I end up with at the end of a year? Will it lift me up on days I’d rather not open my eyes? Will I crumble under the pressure? What if I can’t find one beautiful thing every day? Is that even possible?
So many questions. But I am not one to turn down a challenge.
*I realize that there are more than 64 photos in my set, but that’s because I started and stopped this project a few times before I really got on a roll.
A theme in my life over the last couple of years has been the building level of stress that I’ve been trying my best to ignore. Turns out that ignoring stress doesn’t make it go away. So over the last three weeks or so I’ve been trying to take some specific steps to stem my anxiety and chill out a little. The hope is that by doing so, I’ll have more time and energy to do things I enjoy, I’ll fit into my own pants again, and I’ll be more fun to be around.
The trip to Acadia was an amazing eye-opener for me. I discovered that with a decent amount of sleep, plenty of time in the outdoors, and some playful exercise (as in climbing up a mountain, biking to a pond, kayaking, tubing) actually filled me up in ways I haven’t felt full in ages. So I’ve been trying my best to keep the spirit of that trip alive as best I can. I’ve kept the TV turned off a lot more. We listen to baseball games now and play cards instead of sitting like lumps on the recliners. We use the new free time to keep the apartment clean and pleasant. We cook our meals instead of going out for burgers and beer. Not only have we saved money, but we’ve eaten quite well and I’ve even lost a couple pounds. That’s without adding in any exercise.
I’ve also made quiet time for after 9:30 so I can be in bed and asleep by 10:30. I can’t tell you how much this has done for me. I feel like a new person just by sleeping more. It’s awesome.
All of these things have reawakened some creative spirit in me, too. I’ve got more time to write! And to take pictures. Instead of thinking about project ideas I think might be fun, I’m just doing them. Over the weekend, after a trip to the local greenmarket, I found myself with some free time so I tried an experiment. One apple, 25 photos. I kind of thought it would be neat. I kind of cheated a bit, and I’m a little disappointed in how it turned out once I gave in and started altering the apple, but I like how it made me think creatively. Some of the images I quite like. One is a little risque so you have to go through a safety filter to see it, but I think it is my favorite of the bunch. I don’t know that it’s any great work of art, but it was an exercise that made me feel good about me. I know not everyone can understand that, but that’s part of what makes it special. It’s entirely mine.
We are back from the Grand Canyon and we had a fabulous time. Some photos and stories are here. You’ll have to look at the detail view to get the captions and stories.
This trip has reminded me that as much as I love New York City, a city girl I am not. I think that when our lease is up in April, we’ll be looking for greener pastures – or, really, just pastures. OK. It’ll probably just be half an acre we can barbecue on. But I miss the stars and the smell of fresh air and the sound of crickets at night. Is that so much to want?
Over the weekend we found ourselves strolling around 19th century New England in Old Sturbridge Village, MA. It was so lovely to have the time to stroll with my husband, and we really enjoyed poking in and out of the buildings and learning all the different trades and crafts that people did back then. I think it’s interesting that there are people who still do a lot of these things, although now it’s called “art” or “craftwork.”
We especially liked the demonstration of the carding mill, where the sheep’s wool was being brushed by a water-powered machinery. All the noise of the huge wooden gears and rushing water literally shook the house above it. Looking at the machinery was pretty cool. You could sense what kind of investment it had to be to install something like that, and how much it helped increase output. The sign said that what would take ten hours to card by hand could be done in ten minutes with the machine. And so started the industrial revolution.
We also hiked some of the trails, which I particularly enjoyed because they were largely empty of other people. Being in the city all the time, I really relish the moments when I can be in a forest and not hear people talking or cars driving by or air traffic overhead.
Because we took our time in each of the buildings, we didn’t get to see everything. I’m hoping we can find our way back there at some point to see what we missed. In the meantime, I’ve got lots and lots of photos for remembering what we did see, and you can see the set here, if you like.
I think most people use the end of the calendar year to look back, take stock, and see where they’ve come and what they’ve done over that past year. For me, our anniversary seems like the more perfect time to do this.
This past year has been filled with a lot of ups and downs, much like most people I know. As I look back over the photos from the places we went, the things we saw, the things we did, I am reminded how lucky I am to have shared them all with someone I love as much as you.
There was our belated honeymoon cruise to the Caribbean in late April. Our camping trip where we invented Rummy 10,000 while huddled in our tent throughout the 4-inches of rain deluge. Our week on the beach in the Outer Banks with Siggi and Brett. 2009 was our year for sports, and we went to Yankees games, the Nationals and Orioles game in Washington, DC, a Brooklyn Cyclones game, two Penn State football games, and even a Jaguars game. Sadly, I don’t have photos of that Jags game, thanks to the fact that my camera lens was too long to be considered “safe” by security standards. We bought a car this year, and it has allowed us to do so many new things we couldn’t do before. We ran amuck – or, well, I did – and you took pictures of me doing it. We cruised for Christmas and made the most of an otherwise sad holiday season. We bought new furniture for the living room and finally kicked that ugly green sofa to the curb. We went to San Diego and finally go to see where my brother lives, and sang our hearts out at the Shout House. After five years of talking about it, we got our asses up and out to the Cloisters.
What laces all of these fantastic moments together is the true realization that you really have made me so very happy. I’m so glad I let you into my life.
Check out this year’s anniversary photo here (WordPress doesn’t want to let me embed the video into my post, because I don’t want to pay for it, so I apologize for making you click through to see it): http://www.vimeo.com/10854762
Sometimes, when things in my own life feel shitty, I see what I can do to help improve someone else’s life. Today I went to another Photography Explorers session in Brooklyn, to work with 3rd-5th graders who are learning about digital photography. I went to a session back in January or so and it was really so much fun. The kids are so great!
I don’t know if I’d say my mood is improved, but I did have a great time, and I think the kids did, too.
A nod to Da Vinci and Duchamp.
I am too tired to care.