Coda to Official Photographer

The spirit is that in us which participates. It moves alone, like air or fire, and it moves with the body, lifting the body’s earth and water into gesture and connection, into love.”

– Mark Doty, Cold Dark Deep and Absolutely Clear

This is what I am talking about in the post below. By so obsessively recording memories, even as I live them, I am not somehow not fully participating in them. I am curating, not experiencing. My spirit doesn’t participate very often. There are people (very few, and they know who they are) with whom it does, and certain experiences (with those people), but it is rare. Mostly I am slightly removed, a step away.

Maybe this is not a failing, though, but simply a way of being in the world. When my spirit is really engaged it can feel so raw as to be on the verge of painful. Maybe my role as photographer, my instinctive way of being slightly outside all the time, is just a way of mediating a self that, when fully present, is powerful and porous. I am grateful to those who shepherd that part of me out into the open, who inspire me to such presence. But maybe I just can’t live that way all the time. And maybe there is nothing wrong with that.

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  1. slouchy
    Posted November 22, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I also have trouble living in the moment as opposed to observing it, deconstructing it…

    But when it does happen, it is all that much more special, I think.

  2. BigLittleWolf
    Posted November 22, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I have been the "official photographer" as well, always. Partly, it does prevent you from living fully in the moment. But it also helps you to preserve the moment, and so many of those with family are fleeting.

    I wish I could've "traded off" some of the photographer duties, but it wasn't an option. Still, I am so glad I have as many moments captured as I do. They give me enormous joy, when I look. And I hope they will give my sons joy when they are older, and their children.

    In a way, snapshotting these moments is another sort of honoring of the present. We may be slightly less feeling the moment, but we are ensuring that it will be relived in a vibrant and meaningful way. A kind of echo or second life and third life and more, for very precious times.

  3. Aidan Donnelley Rowley
    Posted November 22, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I like this follow-up because here you acknowledge the fact that living with a bit of distance from the moment is not necessarily a flaw, or a handicap, but a fact of your (and all of our?) existence. No one is fully engaged, fully enmeshed, in the world. There is always distance. There is always a divide. I love the fibers of self-forgiveness here.

  4. Sarah
    Posted November 22, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    I don't think we can expect ourselves to dive deep into every moment. I am exhausted enough already to put that pressure on myself. I also am not always that comfortable with myself to be able to jump in. My mind is not always clear enough. My heart is sometimes full of sadness that I feel I must respond to, and I cannot ignore.

    I get it. You. The idea. The post. All of it.