Saturday, February 7, 2009

When new and old collide

While visiting the mainland on that abortive dental excursion we decided to visit our old marina on the Duwamish River. As I think I've mentioned before, when my husband drove out here with a friend in 1988, they drove a Ryder truck full of furniture and towed a boat which they slept in at night along the way.

We were pretty broke when we arrived in Seattle, and a friend steered us to this cheap marina, which is buried in a pretty industrial part of the city; it's just to the right of the bridge displayed in yesterday's photo on the poetry blog. When we moved out here we dropped the boat in that marina, and, after a couple of abortive excursions, there it stayed and rotted til a friend retrieved it and moved it up to Shaw.

It was fun to visit the old place again, and I was glad I'd brought my camera, though I knew its battery was running low. I wandered around with the camera in hand, looking to see if there might be pictures: I mean, hey, boats and water -- OLD boats and water, SHABBY boats and water -- what more could I want?

But knowing I had only a few pictures left before my camera went dark, I was being picky, and I saw nothing that captured my interest in the marina, and began shifting my focus. I took a couple of shots of the bridge, walked down to the water and watched the geese, looked for another possible angle on the boats and marina... nothing. And then I turned and saw the color and texture of this tarp on the side of the building and literally RAN to the chainlink fence that separated us. I took two photos of the cat/truck/building, turned to my husband and said, "OMG, that was TOTALLY worth the trip," and we started to walk back. When I finally found a boat image that might photograph well I got the camera out one last time, but by then the battery had definitely died.

Which is just as well, because I really love this picture.

Last night we went over to a friend's house to watch a movie which addressed the differences between the before and after in our lives; the value shifts, new behaviors etc. that emerge when we begin to understand better our connection to the divine. And I think one of the challenges of navigating that transition period is that we tend to stay stuck in our old behavior patterns, to look for God in the old obvious places despite the fact that we now get -- intellectually at least -- that the divine permeates everything.

I have years of success photographing old boats and water -- I just hung a show yesterday filled with HUGE images of old boats and water -- so it's natural for me to train my camera, my focus, my vision, back on those old successful places. But I had to turn my back on the marina to get this picture; had to turn away from the easy, obvious beauty of boats and water, to capture this much less obviously beautiful image. And that's the key, particularly for artists as we grow in our craft: we have to set aside what we know will work, what we know will sell and do what calls out to us, what resonates on that divine cord that links our innermost longings to the Universal Other.

You may not like this image, and you probably don't want to buy it. But for me it says I paid attention: to my heart, to the moment, to the surroundings and the color and the light. It says there is a deep beauty that breathes through poverty and pain and age and loss and ignites them with the colors of passion and freedom. It feels like a step forward, and I love it.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. The cat surprised me. I love it.

Contemplative Photographer said...

Yup; me, too. That splash of orange totally makes the picture. And reminds me at the same time of Puck, the cat that lived with us and our girls for the first 18 years of their lives; an amazing spirit.

Jan said...

It is evocative of pain, poverty, but life, too.

KimP said...

Yep, the cat totally makes the photo! And how nice of him to look right between the barbed wires of the fence. Love this!

Barbara said...

You know me, a sucker for junkyards and marinas. What a great shot. Wouldn't you just love to know the the history/story of the miscellanous "stuff" - including the cat who is claiming it all as its own.