Motivations of Photos & Poems

Reflections & Ramblings: Volume Thirty-Seven

Great photographers have a curiosity about people, while also having a seemingly instinctual understanding of the struggle of what it means to be human. 

“As surely as the sparks fly upward” 

Great photographers have an understanding of what makes us who we are – our families, our stuff, our houses and schools and corner stores and neighborhoods, the dirt we play in as kids, the water we swim in, the playgrounds we play on. 

They shape and form who we are before the long shadow of adulthood is cast upon us and we forget those details.

One of the reasons I like family photo albums is because they were meant for only a few eyes to see. Photos on holidays, family gatherings, milestones – those were meant for the family photo album and nowhere else. Their purpose was documentary for just a small circle of people. Days to be remembered, captured for future reference, looked back on with nostalgia or laughter. 

Today, that’s not usually what motivates taking a photo. The photos we take today are taken to be seen by as many people as you can get to see them. We take photos to show off. We take photos to try and get as many eyeballs to see them as possible, damned the algorithms. 

I think to this day still, my favorite photos that I take are markers for my own memory. Family photo album type stuff. Snapshots for my life’s story. Not the ones that I’d put on a canvas and hang in the living room. Identifying moments and people and places that shape me into who I am, who I see myself as. That, for me, is part of the fun of photography. That way, someday when I’m gone, people will have an idea of who I was perhaps, if they care to know.

At least my children, and grandchildren, if I have any, will have photos from me. They’ll be able to piece together a narrative of the fragments of me that got carried down the family line, pieces of what made me me that they didn’t know were also pieces of what made them them.

Why do teenagers push away the people that care about them? 

A few of the girls in my home have been struggling. That’s to be expected. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows around here. Sarah was threatened. I was called names, cussed at. Dab pens are a real problem right now on campus. Our home has really been struggling with them. 

Why do our brains not finish developing until we’re adults? It would be helpful if it happened a little sooner, I think. My goodness it can be frustrating. Sometimes I think it might be better just talking to a wall. 

Despite a teenager’s dogged determination to always do things the hard way, Sarah and I still say what needs to be said. We explain to them, model for them to the best of our ability, a different way. Our advice is rarely listened to or implemented. But we give them our advice anyway.

Going to the Catholic church is still a fairly novel experience for me. I’m not Catholic. I haven’t attended Catholic masses very often in my life. Maybe a wedding or funeral from time to time, but rarely for a typical weekly service. My time here at Boys Town has changed that. I now find myself enjoying going to the services.

It’s still different enough from what I’ve been used to my entire life that details of even the church building itself stand out to me. At the front of the church, up on the wall there is a large wooden crucifix. On either side of the that crucifix there are two rows of angels coming out from the walls, hands folded in prayer.

Before the service started this last Sunday, I found myself very calm, able to relax and take in the peacefulness of the setting. As I looked at the big crucifix and the angels on the walls I noticed that the angels had a thick layer of dust on them, the crucifix, too.

Before the service got underway I scribbled out a poem. I’ve been in a writing mood again lately, and it’s such a relief. I love it when I’m in a writing mood.

Sometimes I get a kick out of sharing something deeply meaningful to me with the girls in our home. Sharing with them a something creative I’ve done, just to share it, to expose them to the way I think. It’s probably drastically different than how they think or what they’ve been exposed to up until this point in their lives.

So at brunch I asked the girls if any of them liked to write poetry, or attempt it, from time to time. A number of them said they did, and that they enjoyed it. I told them before the service started that I scribbled out a poem of my own. I decided to read it to them.

It isn’t a particularly outstanding poem, but more of a documentation of what I noticed. The thing is, I want them to know it’s ok to be curious, to notice things, to write about it, and to share those things in creative ways. Doing such things can feel vulnerable to do, but this is the kind of vulnerability that I want my girls to be exposed to, and to maybe attempt themselves, rather than taking risks that put themselves into actual physical danger.

There are six angels
Seraphim maybe? 
That watch over 
The eternal crucifixion 

Hands clasped
in prayer
And dusty 

None take Jesus 
Off the cross 
He hangs 
As songs ring out 

The resurrected one
A spectacle
He’s dusty too

“Dusty Savior” by Andrew Seaman

Elon Musk bought Twitter today for $44 billion dollars. Just thought I’d note that here.

Some photos from today:

Published by Andrew

a ragamuffin dad planting some sequoias

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