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

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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.

Watching for fins

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Here’s a sobering thought – someone caught an 8 foot Bull shark in the Potomac river this summer.  Not the part really close to the bay, but further in.  The Washington Post ran an article about it a few weeks ago and it caught my eye because it was only a few miles down river from our favorite spot.  So on top of other obvious worries when I take my kids to “the beach” (Leesylvania State Park) I’ll be worrying about sharks too!  Because drowning, accidental sand ingestion, and weird little spiky seeds that puncture feet like needles in a balloon aren’t enough.

Other than worrying about shark attacks, LSP is one of our favorite places to go.  The kids love playing in the sand and water, and I think it’s one of the best photo shoot locations we’ve found.  On a lovely day in the summer you’re likely to see white sails floating out on the water, and the beach is pounded by boat-created waves.  The kids’ favorite place to play is right beside the marina, so they get to see speed boats, sail boats, and jet skis zooming around.  I prefer this spot to the area closer to the fishing pier, after finding a few large fish hooks in the sand.

It’s quite a pretty spot.  We’ve seen seagulls and eagles (yes, I promise, American eagles!) in this beautiful park right outside of DC. It’s rarely busy except on the crazy summer weekend days.  On our last visit right after the schools went back into session we had the whole place to ourselves.  When I’m planning a photo shoot it has two of the main components that I need – distractions and no crowds.

I know I’ve blogged quite a log about the challenges of doing a succesful photo shoot with my kids.  As they get older the challenges are still there, but they’ve changed.  Now I’m hearing “mom, no pictures!” from my 4-year-old and “no camera!” from my 2-year-old.  They absolutely refuse to pose for the camera, and in fact, getting a minimum of 2 out of 3 kids to simply look at the camera automatically makes the shot a keeper.  Forget smiling, or even looking pleasant.  I’ll settle for calm faces, with no crazy expressions and open mouths (from talking non-stop.)

As my kids finally get old enough to survive a few minutes without constant hovering (the stories I could tell!  it’s amazing we don’t go to the ER more often) I’m slowly starting to ramp up my own photography again.  C happened to be in this shot and it made the image stronger, but I didn’t point the camera in his direction just to get a picture of him.

He did think it was quite funny that “his” picture won a ribbon at the county fair this year.