".....I wanted to be a constant reminder to the universe of what passion looks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like." Lady GaGa

     Hmmmm, what passion feels like, what it sounds like. I read the above quote in a recent David Brooks op-ed piece in the New York Times and it impressed me. Having been a passionate, outspoken individual since I was about nineteen years old I thought about Lady GaGa and her early music. I went back to the Brooks article several times trying to understand why it had such an effect on me. He declares that "some people are seized....with a fierce longing." That "they often have a fervent curiosity about their inner natures and an unquenchable thirst to find some activity that they can pursue wholeheartedly." He goes on to state "a life of passion happens when an emotional nature meets a consuming vocation." Also, that those people  "are marked with high levels of both vulnerability and courage." It hit home in a deeply personal way.

     I was largely a shy, neglected child. Unlike GaGa, I did not find my passion until my early thirties with the discovery of photography. And even then putting my passion on hold due to a lack of confidence plus two small children who needed my love and attention. At around fifty seven years of age I found it again. Since that time I have poured my heart and soul into the creative endeavor called art photography. I travelled and pursued my creativity with gusto. Still, I couldn't quite get to the very core of what I was doing. I found my work lacking in a sense. While technically proficient and compositionally adequate I felt something missing. I hadn't the courage to "dig down and play with my issues." I certainly had not exhibited the "courage to be myself with abandon" as Brooks states of GaGa.

     Interestingly, I have been a GaGa fan from an early point in her career. I never examined why or what drew me to her. I only knew she was fearless and brave. These very words are used by her when speaking of herself and by Brooks when speaking of her. She has a willingness to "put her imperfect self out there into the public view" and not care whether anyone will approve. Lately, the last year or so, I have been privately pursuing some creative interests that throw caution to the wind. Not caring whether others approve. It is very freeing. Telling oneself to - just do it - play, have fun!

     At the end of the article Brooks asks, "who would you be and what would you do if you weren't afraid?" I think I know the answer. I'd be me and I'd dig down as deeply as I could possibly dig. I have a mentor who suggested (two years ago) that I photograph what interests a sixty five year old woman. And that is what I have been doing! Thank you GaGa and David Brooks. Who'd have thought the two of you could have influenced me in such a way.


A Genuinely Kind Person

     Having travelled extensively on my own I am always astonished by the people I am able to meet. My recent trip to the Big Island of Hawaii was no exception. I stayed in a small Buddhist B&B which had a variety of people residing there, both for the short term and for the long term.  One resident who has been there awhile stood out. Her name is Anne. She is a nurse by profession. Her Buddhist philosophy as well as her innate sense of humor and her overall grounded normalcy had a profound affect on me although I only spent 10 days at the inn.  She provided an oasis of relief from a seriously lacking Buddhist sensibility elsewhere at the Inn and she had a complete lack of judgmentalism.  Her genuine commitment to Buddhist principals and a sense of calm provided this traveler with some moments of much needed respite.   This blog is a tribute to that sense of being.  Anne you are the real deal and a fine example of what all of us can aspire to be!  Thank you.  Find that property, settle in and know that you provided a sincere kindness to a solitary soul.

A memory

This is the first blog for my new website. I decided to discuss my two passions - photography and travel. Making photographs, for me, is capturing a moment in time. Many of those moments can be seen in the galleries of my website which (the reader) can peruse. They are often made while I have been traveling. But some of my favorite moments while traveling could not be caught with a camera. They had to be caught and stored in my memory. I recall them now and again and smile.

One occurred in the late '90s in Vienna at the Sacher Hotel where I was staying. I had wandered in to the Blue Bar with my trusty Herald Tribune crossword puzzle. As I ordered a glass of wine I noticed a long table set up in the middle of the room. I asked the waiter if it was okay if I sat in the adjacent booth? He said, of course,  please do. Soon a large party of Italians arrived and numerous bottles of Crystal were poured and consumed. Many toasts (in Italian) were made but I didn't know to whom or for what.

I finished my second glass of wine and asked the waiter for the check as the large party was called in to dinner and were leaving for the next room. The waiter gave the bill to a young man (the only person left at the large table) who had spoken only Italian to his group and now spoke Austrian German to his waiter. I decided to inquire of the young man what the celebration was for? In perfect English,  he replied it is my parents 50th wedding anniversary today and they were married here in the hotel. Remarkably, he went on to say, the entire wedding party was able to attend and join us here in Vienna.  In addition, my wife and I were happy to announce that we have a child on the way. I expressed my congratulations then went back to signing my bill and preparing to leave.  But I  turned to him again and said - you are a very lucky man! He smiled, beamed really, and said yes, I think you are right. Thank you for reinforcing something I sometimes forget to realize. Our eyes held each other for a moment and then I said goodnight as did he.  I never saw him again. I have thought of him occasionally and hoped his life continued on it's fortuitous path.

A moment shared by two people who said pleasant things to one another and had a shared, happy encounter. You see those moments are also why I travel.  It isn't just seeing sights, making photographs or being able to say I went here or there.  It is shared snippets of time experienced with others. It is human beings and our interactions that, although small in scope, make us glad to be part of the larger whole.  No photograph or any other art form could have expressed that moment. And until now it has been locked in my travel memory bank.......to be continued......