I also kept a sort of “journal” as I selected and wrote about my photos.
8/2/12 “my first thoughts after reading this”
First: What other major asks you to do this?
Second: I am excited and also pretty scared. This year abroad was supposed to give me something solid, a path to hopefully follow throughout this year that will lead me into the void. In a way, it has, but simultaneously that break from US culture taught me that nothing is ever truly decided for certain. The amount of freedom I truly have is rather daunting; the question is how brave (or stupid) I will be and how much of it I will use, stretching my abilities, and how much I will use that same freedom to choose something comfortable. Recognizing the personal freedom my circumstances have provided me (my mom calls it my “wings”) is also what has motivated all of my work. I want to free people. I want to free them, not as some sort of condescending or sympathetic endeavor but because
What my life has been is a ridiculous gift. It is not perfect, but it has been safe, and I think that if more of us were safe, the world would be a better place. Understand “safe” however you wish, but I think it’s something.
Identity? Bring it on. Just the exercise of reflecting on identity changes it. Delving into my identity will help me understand where I’ve been and where I’m going, figuratively and, más bien, geographically.
This poem, from high school, describes how I feel about my life, and inspired the name of my blog when I went abroad (One wild and precious (world)):
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
As I start, my first dilemma is this: do I start with a picture and try to craft how it connects to my identity, or do I pick something I feel is important about my identity and search for a picture? To the family albums I go.
Second house construction pictures—looking for one that is skeletal enough with tools still in the picture, there is about a two page spread of different pictures of the house from the inside and outside and with different backgrounds. Stormy skies are too foreboding and I don’t really want any suburbia in my picture because while I’ve grown up in it and I supposed it is part of my identity, I don’t pine for it for my future.
Pictures of Thorpe Park—Taken the year I moved to Minnesota, an incredibly hard year for me. Picture from winter or fall? I like the fall more, so I choose fall, even though the dead of winter might be more appropriate. But as the leaves are dying, they become more beautiful as they make way for the new growth that will come in the spring.
First “purposeful” picture taken—my mom (and Río) on a walk with me
I had been thinking about what my intentional pictures were going to be when my mom asked me if I wanted to go for a walk with her, as we often do. Our walks are through beautiful wooded streets and then onto a lovely path that winds around Lake Minnetonka. I grabbed my camera, thinking, perfect, these walks are through some gorgeous parts of where I live, I’m sure I’ll find something that inspires me. I paused a second and then realized that the walk with my mom in itself was what was so important to me. I’ve done the walk plenty of times by myself, as the path also leads to a cute town that I love to go to, but the walks with my mom are special to me, something I always look forward to when I’m away. The scenery is wonderful and the well-maintained path is the epitome of outdoorsy Minnesota, but the kind of talking with my mom that these walks allows is what is important to my story.
Well, I finished. The last photo was impossible to choose because it was the last photo. I thought and thought about what thing, if you took it away, would make me someone else. I don’t know. I wanted to include something about how I grew abroad and my thinking about that, but I’m not even sure how to put it in words, much less pictures. I procrastinated, went on facebook, talked to old and new friends, my parents, and