Some days the photography goddess goes with you. Other times she hangs out with the real photographers. Such was my Saturday. After deleting almost half of my photos I felt like the wolf in this great graphic adorning a bakery near Flax Art & Design. What the hell happened?”
Immediately mantras sprang to mind. “The worst day spent [hobby] is better than the best day working.” “If you at first don’t succeed, try, try again.” “You learn more from your mistakes.” Fill in your favorite cliché. But the pounding in my ears sounded too much like “grab some pine, meat.” [A shout out to my fellow SF Giants fans.] Certain photos [like this fire hydrant] caused this familiar taunt to grow louder.
Initially I pushed the article aside because I approach the world like a battleship (invoking the strong women running through both my blood lines). However, closer reflection — notably an apartment littered with failed hobbies and the frustrated voices of exes/friends past — chastened me. I remembered how quickly I dropped things I could not master in an afternoon or [being fair] not ever given certain of my limitations. Not only did it prevent me from perhaps one day mastering certain subjects (hey a girl can dream), but it cost me respect (both my own and that of others). These are losses I no longer want crumbling my foundation.
Then I read a great Lifehacker post urging readers to adopt a Buddhist approach to life. It advised making one’s life goal to remove unhappiness rather than chase happiness. You can find this provocative piece at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-do-you-need-to-let-go-of.html
Frankly it deserves a blog post of its own. It still runs through my mind like a waterfall: beautiful but beyond grasp. It’s incredibly empowering but also seemingly dishonest. What if you owe an obligation to the unhappiness? (Ah; the neglected child and first wife lament – time to put this puppy [post] to bed soon). Too many things are whirring in my brain, much like the mural excerpt below. I real sleep more than blogging absolution.
Besides not everything becomes a total loss. You end up with the parent best able —and most willing— to care for you. Both you and your ex grow inwardly stronger after you part. [Plus you get to litter your new apartment with anything you want. Evil grin.] Finally it’s virtually impossible not to come home with at least one or two nice pictures in San Francisco (as hopefully shown below).
Good night and thanks for hanging in with this post.
Growing up as a bookworm gave me a strong affinity for older, elaborate homes. My favorite tales featured hidden passageways, transport to other worlds, or (as I aged) bodies crying out for justice. None of these things frightened me because each promised the fictional release my brain and spirit craved.
Later – as I pursued my passion for social justice – I looked to history both for inspiration and justification. The large homes I had avidly scoured for secrets became reduced to symbols of excess (especially after learning my relatives toiled downstairs to run them). Smaller, run-down homes I once barely glanced at achieved heroic status as examples of working class ingenuity.
In time – lots of time – I removed both the dreams and the judgments. Having come from a working class family I could see the skilled labor and fine materials poured into the more elaborate homes. Frankly the same went for the smaller homes clearly built from Sears Catalogs and salvaged items. In each case I could appreciate how these efforts allowed them to stand through the decades.
While I will never forget or forgive the excesses poured into some homes (both old and new) while many people barely survive, I cannot help but photograph them. In glancing at my favorites, however, I realize I need to capture the smaller, older ones. This will be quest.
Apologies for those attempting to follow the blog tonight. Even without the ADHD, picking a new theme would whiplash me. So many selections, so little ability (on my part) to make them perfect.
Photography grounds me by forcing me to see, stop, and focus. Prior to picking up the camera again these words rarely entered my vocabulary. Constantly moving always took me somewhere but too often I ended saying why here.
Still downsides exist with being a photography newbie. The more I learn, I realize the less I know. Seeking inspiration in others work proved humbling given the talent out there. Catching one image well often meant not seeing other available shots. Or worse, taking the same shot over and over. Shrug.
Still sometimes it all comes together when you least expect it.It’s kinda like life.
Woody Allen aptly stated “eighty percent of success was showing up.” However, as someone who showed up most of her life, I want a little more out this next half. I want – no need to – like where I end up (even if it will only be on walks behind my camera lens).
Although many tout Ginger Rogers for doing everything Fred Astaire did “backwards and in heels,” it’s generally not the world’s greatest strategy. After all it requires strapping on ankle breaking footwear and attacking a situation with your eyes closed. However, those of us with ADHD live a similar strategy, which I describe as an homage to “Wrong Way [Douglas] Corrigan” (a 1930’s era pilot who attained celebrity status by mistakenly flying to Ireland instead of New York). Unfortunately, unlike the publicity-savvy Corrigan, most ADHDer’s fill our lives with missed appointments, unpaid bills, and broken promises rather than celebrity endorsements.
Even though ADHD entered my life as an unsolicited burden, I now view it as a unexpected gift both for those of us with it and society as a whole. Despite popular cultural attacks – yes I’m talking to you “South Park” – ADHDer’s are not lazy, stupid, or defiant. Our sluggish cortex may impede our efforts to focus on things lacking an immediate payoff, impede our listening skills, or weaken our impulse control. But conversely it frees us to hyperfocus when it matters, see things others miss in their rush to conformity, and take chances on outsiders (be they people or ideas). None of the above is ever a popular position to take, notably in a time of seemingly shrinking resources and unstable political outcomes. Yet without the “fully aware”(aka non-ADHDer’s) who possess great courage and us ADHDer’s who stumble blindly along, society would often miss potential solutions.
Mind you these potential solutions don’t succeed every time. Nor can they erase the societal and personal damage an undiagnosed or undisciplined ADHDer causes. However, to paraphrase both Hegel and Act-Up, “no motion (silence) equals death.” Less poetically an unwillingness to seek out the new coupled with a refusal to diversify dooms both societies and organizations. Maybe its our eternal status as outsiders or simply our head-blindness but most ADHDer’s lack those fears.
This theory jumped at me (again) when I examined my last set of photos. I could have — and maybe should have — tossed them due to the bright midday sun. Further many lacked focus because once again a migraine muddled my brain. However, looking closer I saw the shots behind the shots (play of shadows, reflections in windows, or just unusual look of items). Part of handling ADHD involves a lot of self-forgiveness. Hopefully this will explain the indulgence I displayed by posting this latest slide show.
As many of you have guessed, I find pathways irresistible. It never bothers more if they lead nowhere or force me off my journey. Instead I greedily soak up everything along the path, especially if the “everything” captures my imagination or reminds me of a favored story. Neurons failing to fire for overdue deadlines or timed arrivals suddenly launch into hypermode as I internally spin connections known only to me and (perhaps) other dreamers. Whether it translates into anything but pleasure remains an open question but I no longer feel guilt. An artist friend described something similar by noting she viewed life as vivid colors and definable shapes (all pushing at her brain to create things). Fortunately her great talents allow her to produce a great product out of her ruminations. In my case they most often feed the endless trivia popping out of my during both opportune and inopportune moments.
Anyway, my August foray to UCSF – featured in an earlier post – produced several vignettes from my thrashing through the campus. Below are a couple more, which I hope to exhibit in slideshows. However, I can only figure out how to place them in one slideshow. Go figure.
A beautiful 2008 exhibit championing communication captured me on all counts. A beautiful pathway draped with beautiful plants and stunning canopy featured signs written in the world’s languages. Many beautifully calligraphed statements went beyond hello to evoke real thought about the nature of communication. Points if you can translate them. More points if you can read some of them (in time I will get to better know my camera).
I obsessively snapped the pathways leading to closed doors or unseen places. Some pictured active work sites hidden beyond locked doors. Others remained as ghosts from UCSF’s path (both due to the passage of time or movement of jobs to Misson Bay site). All reminded me of the endless mysteries I gobble up either in books or television (always my endless need for justice). Some just downright frightened me (reminding me of the poverty-strickenareas in which I have worked). Hopefully you will see some of those things (or find your own source of satisfaction).
Finally (for tonight) I wandered into UCSF’s beautiful art garden, which resides near the School of Nursing. It proudly displayed both world-class art – include the cheeky sculptures featured in the slideshow – and heartfelt homages to fallen classmates and faculty (most appearing as beautiful trees now reach to the sky). Interspersed among all of it was great artwork from various eras and genres. Some championed the patients and providers, others seemed to celebrate the eccentricity associated with a life spent fighting both life and disease. Or maybe just the quirky spirit needed to survive school in a hilly wind tunnel. Either way I found both its charm and absurdity a welcome antidote to the stunning beauty associated with the hill views.
Obviously it’s a rhetorical question since the hills generally offer the best views, freshest air, and (often) greatest safety.
Rather than launch into a screed regarding scarcity of resources, I’ll reveal another not-so-hidden secret to San Francisco. Our abundance of hills opens these benefits to the masses. All it takes is a willingness to climb or a SF MUNI pass. Moreover, you generally don’t have to go very far to find a sudden view. The ones to my left and right are only just outside my apartment door. Remember too, I can focus my camera to catch particular aspects of the picture. However, my eyes benefits from the whole shot.
Or I can take a few more steps up a short hill to find pictures of Sutro Tower. It’s an icon for locals and our communication venue. Someone once pointed out it looks like a clipper ship if you get underneath it (especially on a foggy night).
Still if you want the best views, it’s best to make the effort to climb some higher hills. When my health improves I’ll cast the proverbial wider net. In the meantime, I’ll cheat and stick to local venues like UCSF (one of the great teaching medical centers in the country if not the world).From my house, I can walk up the back entrance to both its buildings and gardens.
UCSF’s location on the semi-steep hills of Parnassus Ave provides stunning views of the Golden Gate Park, the Bay, and various local neighborhoods. Most people tend to avoid it, however, because it’s a cold, foggy, wind-tunnel. Eh it’s why us Sunset Natives love it (after all conditioning makes us curdle at sight of sun or is it we are vampires :)) It’s part of why – sadly – many of its practitioners are fleeing out to Mission Bay‘s better weather. Of course it probably has something to do with earthquakes as well.
Given my obsession with buildings, I appreciate what great views it provides of Golden Gate Heights and the Sunset. Though I can’t help but think of another native’s friendly gibe at me years ago. No matter how much some of us (e.g. me) may seek to flee the Church, we always tend to live within the sound of church bells. The pink imposing building in the lower picture is St. Anne’s Catholic Church and School (nope, not my alma mater). Nor does it skimp on views of the beautiful Craftsmen Houses in the area.