It’s Monday morning, the dogs are napping, tea steams out of our cups. We are sitting on the couch in pajamas watching a PBS documentary we found online of the life of Ansel Adams, and it got me thinking.
This man grew up in San Francisco, was awkward and a bit of a loner. In the summer he would hike through Yosemite and take photographs and in the fall he would return to San Francisco to play the piano, often practicing for over 6 hours a day. He had an on again off again girlfriend who he eventually married. Above all else, he longed to be in the mountains where the air was pure. He took photos, arriving at the top of a summit with only two frames left. He had to stop and think. He had to wait for just the right moment, these last two frames his only chance, and it got me thinking.
We are so fast paced. Everything in our culture revolves around instant gratification, and also around what everyone else is doing. I love the Internet but I also hate it. Sometimes I find myself getting so caught up with online life and what everyone else is doing, that I forget to do anything myself. Everything has become about show. Everything is about posting to Twitter or Instagram what we are doing, this and that, but is it really us? The times I feel the most like me are the times when I’m by myself and completely cut off from the Internet. It’s not the Internet itself that is bad for me, it’s the comparison and seeing what everyone else is doing, causing me to forget to live. If I can shut everything off and be by myself, hide away in my bedroom for hours writing, sometimes a coffee shop, music blasting, or maybe I’ll be at the ocean sitting in the sand, bundled up in blankets as the cold wind freezes my thoughts and allows me to actually observe them. It’s these times I feel alive.
Ansel didn’t take photos for Instagram. He didn’t take photos for anyone but himself. He didn’t care about likes. He didn’t desire showing the world how grand his life was. No, his life in some ways was a bit pathetic: peculiar, feared large crowds and was a hypochondriac. I think back to my time in San Francisco. San Francisco feels like my first love. I will never forget it or stop loving the place, but it was a bipolar relationship. I remember applying for a job while I was there and one of the job qualifications was that you had to be an extrovert. I was puzzled, being the exact opposite of that. I’ve never understood why the culture of San Francisco embraces creativity but not the lifestyle that is often tied to that, one of seclusion… of personal, private creation. One that is not for show, not for a name or fame, but for pure love. Ansel took photos in the wild because that’s where he felt the most alive.