Julianne just has a way of putting things that keeps demanding a response from me.
Take The Open Eye, for example.
She writes about a trip she took to Washington D.C. recently, sans her camera. This is atypical for her, having captured the “birth, growth, decay, deconstruction and rebirth” of the city through the decades, including “interesting faces, odd artifacts, seasonal changes–all caught on rolls of film and memory cards.” Julianne took the opportunity to see things differently than usual, “to see,” as she says, “what was in front of me, around me–rather than moving into a ‘good shot’ position.”
I know that frame of mind, where you decide to put the working artist hat on a mental shelf and just relax into being present to what is around you. Of course, none of this is as simple as it may seem. For one, we can’t just compartmentalize ourselves that easily. And just because we don’t have a pencil or camera to “capture” a scene or an object, doesn’t stop us from assessing it with an artist’s eye: noting the colors, the light, how it fits into its surroundings. That is part of our enjoyment.
Perhaps the real issue is that we may have a little obsession going. We MUST capture everything we could possibly use in a work of art, much like the woodworker who MUST keep every piece of wood, just in case it is needed.
Julianne’s description of an elderly woman in Starbucks reminded me of my own recent experience in the Starbucks I frequent, where I have had many intimate conversations with friends as we sip our favorite brew (mine is a venti soy chai lotte, no water, no foam). Wendi and I were cleaning up our cups and plates when our attention was riveted by the two women who seated themselves at the table next to us. It soon became obvious that they were mother and daughter. The white-haired mother was small, quite fragile-looking, and utterly beautiful. Her skin was translucent- as translucent as the string of pearls she wore around her neck, which went perfectly with her wool suit. She was definitely dressed for the occasion – to the nines was the phrase that came to mind.
The daughter held up a camera and asked me to take a picture of them before we left the coffee shop. I had to maneuver all around them to get a good shot because the sun was streaming through the window and bathing them in bright light. “This is my mother’s 99th birthday,” the daughter declared, with obvious joy and pride.
I snapped their smiles, then took the elderly woman’s hand and, looking in her face, said “If I am half as beautiful as you when I turn 99, I will be thrilled.”
You should have seen her smile, then. It was so lovely. And yes, I DID wish, later, that I had asked them to send me a copy of that picture.