Sorry, I don’t want to talk about my pain


Low tide

There are two main news stories right now about students enacting change on campus, and I won’t get mired down in details or opinions. One comment a student made stuck in my head though, and I’ve been mulling it over, along with thoughts about the campus situations and the conversations about race going on in our country right now.  Go to this Atlantic article for a thoughtful look at the Yale story that began with an administrative admonition about potentially offensive Halloween costumes.

Specifically, the student (unnamed in the article, although I’m sure you can find them named elsewhere) wrote “I don’t want to debate.  I want to talk about my pain.”

I began my adult life as a naive idiot.  I’ve learned a lot along the way.  I’ve been through a lot, including a lot of heartbreaking things.  Not as bad as some people have it, for sure, but enough to state that yes, I’ve known pain.  Mental, emotional, and even physical pain.  Some of it was bearable, some of it was heartbreaking, and some of it I still deal with to this day.

I could be a rare bird or whatever, but in my experience, the more people hurt, the less they want to say about it.  I rarely hear someone say “let’s talk about how I’m feeling” after experiencing the death of a loved one.  One of my own painful experiences – multiple miscarriages – is not something I ever hear talked about in casual conversation.

That said, it’s purely anecdotal and a massive generalization. Take my opinion for what it is.

I don’t want to talk about my pain.  I don’t want YOU talking about my pain.  Bringing this kind of thing up makes everyone uncomfortable: they don’t know what to say, or how to relate, or even to how to be compassionate or empathetic.  I want to suffer through it without your well-meaning, clumsy comments that only inflict more pain. Later, when I’m better able to cope, perhaps I’ll tell you a little about it if I know you really well and I feel emotionally stable enough to do it.

Perhaps this isn’t a healthy way to live.  It reeks of paranoia and privacy.  It can go overboard to internalizing issues instead of dealing with them.  I don’t know.

All I know is this: in my experience, people who say “I want to talk about my pain” are one of two things.  Either they’re extraordinarily strong emotionally, or drumming up angst to make themselves feel important.

So how does this relate in any way to the image in this post?  I gravitate towards photographing things that stand alone.  Alone.  That’s the most I feel like saying.

Early Snow

I usually don’t tweak things like this, and to be totally honest, I didn’t tweak it that much.  Still, I usually say that my photos are lightly edited, so I guess I should explain what I did here.

We had a lovely, messy snow in the last few days of October up here in NY.  It didn’t stick to anything hard, but when we got up that morning, anything green was covered with a dusting of snow.  It even lasted most of the day, but I managed to grab a few shots when the morning sun was shining on my back yard.  Given that it’s autumn, the leaves were already a nice rusty color that looked wonderful when the sun was on it.  I wanted to emphasize the color of the leaves more than the initial shot did, so I ended up tweaking it in post (production.)

Now, I could say that I dropped it into Photoshop and did some fancy number with filters and color channels.  Nothing that interesting, sadly.  All I did was tweak the white balance a bit to give it a slightly warmer cast.  It’s pretty obvious that I didn’t tweak it that far because the snow still looks white.  I guess if I really wanted to do things the hard way, I could have slapped some sort of filter on the camera lens itself.

Funnily enough, I didn’t notice until I edited the shot that there’s a water drop on the leaf tip.  Which explains why it’s out of focus.

For those of you who follow this blog, thank you for your patience.  I won’t go into details, but my son has given us a few scares and we still don’t know exactly what’s going on.  We’re praying for the best and still looking for answers.  Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers!

One small goal at a time

I’m never that enthused by the whole New Year’s resolution idea.  It always seems to me that you’re setting yourself up to fail by making these grand schemes and goals for the next year.  Two months later they’re a nagging annoyance in the back of your mind, especially if the goals had something to do with losing weight or getting more exercise.

I’d much rather set smaller goals.  Wishes, if you will.  I never write them down, and usually, I don’t even verbalize them to myself or anyone else.  They become one more thing I want to do, a small thing that doesn’t change the world but makes a little bit of difference.

For example: I try to support my local farmers.  I’m not a vegetarian or a “locavore” (someone who only eats foods grown within X amount of miles from where they live.)  I try to shop the farmers markets and produce stands by the side of the road – and during the winter, I do my best not to purchase exotic foods from Chile, Mexico, or regions far far away.  If the taters in the grocery store offer me the option of Maine taters, I chose those over the ones from California. 

This Thanksgiving we’re snacking on a local grown turkey.  It’s a free range turkey, and I can happily report that this bird had a better life than most dogs I’ve met living in a city (excepting the whole “chop the head off and serve it for dinner” bit.)  I’m due to pick the thing up on Sunday, and I’m excited to try brining the sucker a la Martha Stewart – it should be a turkey to die for. 

I’ve grown a rather nice little collection of canvas bags (bargains from here and there) to use instead of the frail grocery store plastic ones.  They come in extremely handy, and I use them for everything from grocery shopping to visits to the library and to block cats from sitting somewhere they’re not supposed to (when stored at home, that is.) 

This year, I’m doing my best to send Christmas gifts that are handmade or locally produced.  I hate the commercialism that’s taken over our holidays, and if buy I must, I plan to make the purchase a helpful, useful one.  After all, is the season really about how much “Made in China” crap you can buy? 

I’m not on a crusade.  I’m not perfect.  But at some point I realized that yes, even a little bit of change is enough to make a difference.  And if it doesn’t truly make a difference in the grand scheme of things, it at least makes a change for the better in my life.  Sometimes that’s enough.

This was today’s goal – get in gear and go photograph something, even if it’s just a leaf I picked up off the driveway.