Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Looking Inward Self Portrait Class - Narrative

Learning About Myself - Observation and Aspiration

I am willing, even eager, to come close to the camera, to use a macro lens and photograph details. And yet, I introduce blur or intentionally defocus the image, hiding in plain sight, hiding in the details, or hiding the details. Creating “art” while seeking personal authenticity.

Lost in detail, I find an engaging abstraction, my body as landscape - the rounded hills and valleys of my hairy chest, the wheat fields of my bearded cheek.
Close up photograph of the chest of an older white male
Larry Wolf (2020)
A distinctly white male body, unremarkable, intended to not attract attention, yet, somehow, to be noticed, privilege embodied.. Clean. Groomed. Respectable. Distinguished older gentleman. And.. disappearing.. into abstraction and into ordinaryness. 

I compartmentalize and hide the chaos and confusion that a wider view would show: piles of books, photographs, drawings, camera, tripod, electronics - symbolic and utilitarian objects - a vast sea of the many streams of thought and work. 

From that swirl of activity, I focus on the aging of this body. Though still very much alive, no longer in the radiance of youth, a different radiance is evident. 

Larry Wolf (2020)
Keeping fear, tears and heartbreak at a distance. The current pain of police killings of black citizens and the structural racism deep in our culture. The violent deaths of queer people, the erasure of relationships and gender identity. The raging pandemic with continuing deaths and societal mismanagement. The systemic dysfunction of our healthcare system paid to do more rather than to do better; to address individual crises rather than proactively ensure public health. The endless cycle of economic meltdowns that increase disparities. The relentless colonization of the planet and the rising tide of climate change. The lack of any real safety in people or organizations dedicated to compassion and healing.

I have lived decades in the utopian hope that it gets better, that now feels so false. I have abandoned the spiritual tradition of my ancestors and the meditative ones I chose. Now, to be open, questioning, curious, while creating. There are no answers, only the illusion of knowing.

My past contributions have felt both substantial and irrelevant given the large context of a violent society, the limits of my (and anyone's) knowledge, wisdom, power to act, and the essential unpredictability of the world.

The only certainty is that we will die, each of us, every one. … Personal losses, lovers, parents, teachers, sacred places. Parts of me, of my history, have died, and others survive. The parts that have been repaired, the parts that are still broken, and the parts that are yet to break.

I make peace in tiny pockets of sanity and beauty. I find healing in small repairs and replacements. I want a way forward to a remembered joyfulness of being. To embrace the pain, the fear, the tears, the storms, and to open to a deeper appreciation of warmth, compassion and nurturing. Buddhists call it luminous emptiness. What do I experience?

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