December 31, 2016
As an opening, I’d simply like to say that I find it so frustratingly peculiar that with all our technology and “conveniences,” we have more stress and more fatigue than at any other point in our short human history.
And I find it so frustratingly comical that for many of us, we actually use this modern technology for the convenience of inflicting ourselves with more stress and more fatigue than at any other time in our personal human history. For example: This website. But I’ll get to that.
So here is Number Three-Hundred Sixty-Six. I hope you enjoy it. I have spent some time thinking about this while I should be doing about a hundred other things. …But, as they say, that is what Scotch and sick days are for. ; )
The characters you will see in mosaic on the left is titled “The Revelers,” and is the work of Jane Dickson, an American artist and Harvard graduate. This fellow on the wall is not the only one, though. Jane Dickson installed nearly 70 mosaic characters in the Times Square station to symbolize the excitement and joy of Times Square which, coincidentally (not coincidentally), reaches its annual peak today: New Year’s Eve. This collection was installed 2007-2008 and is part of the MTA’s permanent collection. More can be found here. And without any disrespect to a fellow (and much more skilled) artist…
That is not at all what I came to talk about.
I came to talk about the statement mounted in the rafters.
“The Revelers” accurately describes
most some of us on this particular day. But if they describe us on this day… what shall we say about ourselves every other day?
some most of us, isn’t it? It is me, for sure. It is why we feel burdened with guilt at the end times about all the things we should have done but did not make the time for. It is the burden of thinking about all the things we sacrificed in order to make the compromise. “I’m tired” is the reason I give to explain why I cannot even seem to accurately describe this feeling I feel at this very moment.
But I wonder…
Where did Jane Dickson find the time to create nearly seventy mosaics to stick in a subway station??? I can’t even get the time to even completely get through the Facebook timeline on a daily basis! I’m down to about once a week!
Self-inflicted reasons though. Mostly.
But it doesn’t stop there, and definitely not anywhere in NYC.
At first we stand in defeat with the only explanation of our failures is that we are just So. Damn. Tired.
But then… the stress of stopping comes in the same manner as everyone feels when they are rushing to get somewhere and the traffic light cycles from green to amber. That panic starts to boil from deep within and it always seems to include this terrible, terrible word: IF.
If… two letters that simply mean NOT DEFINITELY FACTUAL. Could be factual, sure, but do you notice that we tend to assume the worst is always the path we will drive down? Why don’t we ever look at the positive? What would that be like? Maybe something like this:
IF not late…
IF the trains are running on time…
IF the light does not change to red…
IF I am able to complete my projects on time, or lucky enough to at least finish this one blog post…
IF I win the lottery………..
It all sounds so foreign.
Instead we can all resonate more with the way this story is being told in the concrete-laden steel rafters of the subway station prominently placed at the center of Earth. When we are tired, but forced to move forward, we can only assume that worse is on the horizon.
Seriously… I think we can all agree winning the lottery is not on his mind’s horizon.
Nor is it on hers.
Maybe she will win. Who knows. But her mindset suggests she believes she will not win. It suggests that she is…
and IF (!!) late,
she’ll get fired.
That is a loaded question if I have ever read one…
I think we have all contemplated this question at different points in our lives. It is a necessary question to ask ourselves from time to time because without determining the value of where we presently stand, we cannot ever expect to see change, right?
For instance, I happened to be standing in a dirty subway corridor taking this picture of some stuff written on the ceiling on Christmas morning. Christmas morning! Without even taking a brief second to ask why the hell I was in the subway by myself on Christmas morning… I’d like you to look back over the past couple photos. See that man? See that woman?
That man and that woman, here, on Christmas morning, is my best evidence to demonstrate why the festive holiday spirit of The Revelers only truthfully describes some of us.
Why the pain?
Does this blog matter? Does me sharing any of my thoughts with any of you really matter? Is it going to help you with any other the hundreds of decisions you have to make this week? Does it provoke thought in a meaningful way? Am I inhibiting you in some way by suggesting that you take 5-10 minutes from your schedule and dedicate it to something I created from nothing?
Am I merely helping add to the bottom line of my domain registrar and WordPress?
Why the pain?
That is always the easy out: Quit. Go home. Throw down the bat, pick up your bag, and walk home. Shout expletives along the way to show how tough you are if it makes you feel better… as you walk away.
For those millions of people who have walked in this direction along this particular corridor… I wonder how many have read this poem along the way. I wonder if any of them ever came to a screeching halt at this moment, turned around, and went home.
Hey… that’s what Scotch and sick days are for, right?
Just go home.
Life is better when we can simply pull the covers over our heads.
Well.. maybe it isn’t better, but at least we cannot see the monsters for a few minutes.
Do. It. Again.
While I do not really think that anybody reached the sign that said “Just go home” really did that, I do believe that the world is full of people that actually did “just go home” ne’er to return.
To those people that stopped- I wish I could get them all to understand the overwhelming importance of this survival message.
To myself- I am glad I metaphorically walked the seemingly endless amount of steps between that last sign and this one. Way to go, tiger…
Do. It. Again.
I think the pessimist might suggest that this sign means that we scream “Why the pain??” and without providing any answers to ourselves, we go home after our day of lashings in the office just to return the next day while muttering, “Please sir, can I have some more?”
That’s not an opinion I subscribe to. I subscribe to the mindset that we must always do it again, but better. We must reassess at this time of year and make decisions about what we did right and what we did wrong. We must strive not to sacrifice, but to simply cut the unnecessary fat while maintaining the necessary.
Do. It. Again.
So what is my rough draft for how to make 2017 better than 2016?
In terms of this website, I will certainly not make any suggestions that I will be posting here daily. As we have seen over the last year, me saying I can do a daily photo blog is about as likely as 95% of all gym membership promises that will be made during the first few weeks of January.
So how do we do it better?
Not sure, but I have a few ideas. For me, I think photography and blogging will be secondary to stronger personal goals: cycling and running. This will help my wallet and my longevity at the same time. Win-win.
Without intention, I have noticed 2014 was dedicated to photography while rekindling an interest in cycling. 2015 was dedicated to cycling while enjoying photography and then rekindling an interest in running. 2016… I love running, while enjoying photography and not having any time for cycling.
2017 needs to be a combination of cycling and running, while enjoying photography when I can.
When can I? Well, during my commute might become a bit of a “thing” here, so standby for more subway shots in 2017. : ) (Seriously, I hope I can do far better than subway shots… but they are necessary if we want to be even the slightest bit honest about the grit that makes up the fabric of city living.)
Lastly- I’d like to talk a little bit about this blog.
I suggest everyone takes up this idea. It is a VERY inexpensive hobby (can even be free if you want). You don’t have to do a daily thing.. try weekly, or monthly, or whatever. It is so much more fulfilling then BuzzFeed and every other stupid clickbait thing on the internet that has one sole purpose: make money with zero quality.
Anyway, back to my point…
In the beginning, I was not unlike this boy. Let me put it into context by zooming out a wee bit:
See the boy in the center and just behind the camera crew operator’s lift?
The boy in the mural is staring at what “Hollywood” wants him to see. But what “they” want him to see is not the whole picture, right? It is the whole scene, sure, but not the picture.
The picture, as I now define it, is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I am less interested in the movie star than I am the niftiness of the camera operator’s crane. I am less interested in the movie star than I am the crowd amassing in the background. They will never be known to anyone seeing the feature film… but they were part of the whole experience for that actress in creating a live street scene as opposed to simply working on a closed set or stage. They are not part of the script, but they are part of her memory. I am interested in that.
I am more interested in the dog studying what his eyes are seeing. I am more interested in the small girl in the middle of the pack. She obviously cannot see because of the adolescent boys standing in front of her. …but does she care, or is she bored? Is it cold out and she is merely shielding herself from the wind by hiding between “big people?” It is plausible… they have jackets and sweatshirts on.
I am more interested in the amazing expression of skill in the artist(s) that created this magnificent mural along a random wall in a random subway junction… as opposed to having work commissioned in a gallery or church or other place.
I am more interested in how the subway has evolved from a transportation means that used to be riddled with graffiti and crime to one that is nearly completely absent of graffiti and crime. In fact, it has evolved into the largest art gallery in the world.
I am more interested in how subway tile is still one of the most popular approaches to tiling kitchens and baths today.
I am more interested in the entire world.
This blog has made me more knowledgable about the world I am most interested in.
That is why I suggest you take part. And the key is this: Write your thoughts down where someone, anyone, everyone can read them. It will force you to really think about what you think. ; )
Cheers, and good luck to everyone in 2017!
…And also now heading into 2018! ; )
Back the Blue.