Changing Expectations

Knitting in "Some Crust"

If you’d asked me what I expected to do while visiting Charlotte “at College” in southern California, the list would not have included sitting in a cafe for half the day while she swam and went to class… not because I would have expected to hang out with her during those times, but because I thought maybe I’d be out exploring with my camera, going for a run or a walk, maybe sitting by the pool in the sun, or reading on a bench somewhere.  The fact that it is about 42 degrees, that most of Los Angeles county is flooding because it has been pouring for five days straight, and that I arrived here half-sick, makes for another set of circumstances entirely. Apparently, I’m supposed to get some rest, and the Universe is making sure that I do so.  There’s not much to do indoors in a place that gets this much sunshine every year.  The college kids are cooped up in dorms where they aren’t used to hanging out, and getting a little stir-crazy.  They don’t know what to do when the weather’s like this either.  My solution, reading and writing at “Some Crust”, was as good as any, yet sitting there, just “being”, felt very odd and I can’t say that I was entirely comfortable. Ordinarily, I dream of having days like today, where no one and nothing is making any demands on me. It seems like it would be ideal. Yet, when given exactly that, it feels strange and like I’m doing something wrong. If I’m not doing, then who am I?  I sat and wrestled with this in my journal for a while, but when I found myself asking why I take photographs… “what is the point of that?” and I knew the answer, I decided that I had already gone through this too many times and closed my journal.  Introspection had gone too far. “Visual Poetry” took its place and I immersed myself in the wisdom of photographer/author Chris Orwig.  Soon I started thinking about what I could shoot on a day like today, when I didn’t even want to go outside.  I started looking around the cafe and the street outside with different eyes. An older couple asked if they could sit at the end of the large table next to where I was sitting. She started knitting.  There is a grace to the rhythm of knitting and I found myself watching her hands.  I asked her if I could photograph them, and that began a long conversation with the psychology professor and his wife. They live on an island not far from Seattle when not here teaching, so we had many physical touch points for our conversation. In that short interval, I was lifted from my own spinning thoughts, via knitting and my camera, to a vision of thousands of snow geese lifting as one from a field in the Skagit Valley, followed by another of bald eagles at their winter feeding grounds – one a memory that I shared, and one that was shared with me. Both gave me ideas for places to go that I haven’t been at all or for a long time – both close to home.

I’m currently writing this from my daughter’s dorm room sitting on her bed.  College campuses are special places.  They vibrate with positive, youthful energy and enthusiasm. There is guitar music, recorded music and laughter coming from behind doors. Walking around this school and sitting in the town, I am constantly impressed by the conversations I overhear.  These kids are going to change the world.

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