To feel sadness - to deeply feel real sadness that comes from compassion - is our birthright and a living expression of being awake.
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So when scouring over the news today, I come across an article.
"Indian man carries wife's body for miles."
I click on the article, and I begin to read. Dana Manjhi's wife died of tuberculosis in an Indian hospital and was unable to afford transportation back home. He said that the hospital refused to help him, so he began his 31-mile walk back home while carrying his wife's body on his shoulder... with their 12-year-old daughter by his side.
My eyes began to water. I needed to step away from my computer and drink a cup of tea... I couldn't help but grieve, hard, for this man and his daughter. In a world where the family is everything, how can others allow this perversion of human morality and dignity to go unhindered?
I begin to think about my finances and what I have been spending on. Recently I have spent thousands of dollars on two archery bows. Why? I wanted the best bows on the market. I want to compete. Here I am spending so much money on bows and other things... when across the world a man is carrying his dead wife on his shoulder for 31 miles because he cannot afford a ride back home while grieving. I felt like such a shitty person.
I finish my tea and go back online. I need to do something.
So in a previous blog post, I mentioned someone being fascinated by archery and being impressed by her ability to shoot. My coach was also impressed by her. After several sessions of training, I am excited to see how she will perform with arrows that are tuned for her bow :).
I haven't taken a portrait of her in years when she asks me. "Do you want to do a shoot?"
"Ricardo! You don't want to do the shoot do you :("
And I look at her, with curlers in her hair and, makeup was just completed, outfit worn.... I suppose I slightly hesitated.
"Yes! YES! of course I do!"
I did, and I did not, and my head was killing me. I haven't had a need to take someone's portrait in a very long time. I suppose it's because I am already satisfied with the level of work I achieved in photography, and I have new goals I want to reach. But how can you say no to someone who's enthusiastic, excited, appreciative, and just plain happy and cheery? On top of that, she has been a great archery partner. She has always spoken so highly of my work.
Great. Talk about pressure! She is an incredible photographer, and now I am to take her portrait?
We walk across her condo complex and into a small little park of sorts. The sun and humidity are out in full force. My headache slowly getting worse with the sunlight (I was hungover).
And then, for the first time in a VERY long time, I begin having a photographic conversation with someone. I found myself talking about ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, overblown light, contrast, etc, etc. I smile to myself and couldn't help myself from enjoying the conversation. "Has it been that long?" I go to myself.
"Here. Use my camera," she tells me.
"I have never loaned my camera to anyone, ever. No one has held my camera before so understand that it's a big deal for me to trust you with it," she continued.
"OH, it's just a Nikon. I wouldn't worry about it," I joked.
To the response of a sarcastic but ridiculously cute facial expression haha.
I take the ridiculously expensive Nikon, and I wrap the strap around my wrist.
"I like how you hold the camera like that."
I take photographs of her using her Nikon, and I also take several photos using my Canon film camera.
"Can you show me your private galleries?"
"What do you mean?" I respond.
"Well, I want to see your unedited work, more photos of some of your photo shoots. Show me!"
"Haha. Umm, ok. Just so you know, no one has ever seen my behind the scenes or unedited work, but sure. Hand me your laptop. I'll log in."
I log into my website, and she begins browsing through all of my work. We start talking about just how much my style has changed over the years.
"Someone once told me that I was a better editor than a photographer. My photographs were only that good because I could edit well. I felt that was messed up and to prove a point I began editing photographs less," I tell her.
"What? You're an incredible photographer!"
"It's like saying that someone is a good photographer because they have an expensive camera!"
She continues browsing through my work.
"Ricardo! These are beautiful! Why have you not published these?!"
"Well, I'm not sure honestly."
"Publish these Ricardo! They are amazing!"
"You think so? Hmm, maybe I'll review and publish some haha.
"Who is she?"
"That's Blu's mother."
"Yes haha, she is isn't she. I taught her photography and everything she knows about it."
"Oh did you??"
"Yeah... but she doesn't give me credit. Apparently, when someone asks her how she got into photography, she tells people that a friend taught her." *****
"Wow... can I see her work somewhere?"
**** Side Discussion: In all honesty... I am the type of man who takes with him whatever good someone brings into his world... and appreciates the good. For instance, I am a marathon runner, but whenever someone asks me how I got into the sport, I always credit Blu's mother for everything she showed me and taught me. It would be a disservice to Blu, and her mother, to simply say "a friend got me into running." I dated a wonderful girl who introduced me to archery, and to this day whenever someone asks me how I got into archery, I mention the time I dated a girl who is a girl scout lead who taught archery to kids that began my interest in the sport ( I blogged about it here: Nahko Bear and Archery Lessons with a Disney Smile). Be genuine. Always.
When you tell your archery coach who your celebrity crush is...
Laying her head on his chest,
She is soothed by warmth... the rhythm of a heartbeat.
Her back caressed by exploring fingertips.
Reassured by a kiss on her forehead.