I am a filmmaker. Wait, no, that’s not quite right. Oh ya, I am NOT a filmmaker. All it took for me to come to this conclusion was five minutes away from home. Albania. My third trip. My third trip co-teaching with Elena Dorfman. Left to my own devices, I am is a still photographer who wants to write in his journal. That’s it. The grand total of the sum of my parts. Fifty-four years and all I want to do is press the little button, click the clicker and put my thoughts on paper. The rest of it, well, you can have it. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not for me.
It’s like a second or third language. Nothing you do will make you native speaker. All you will ever be is a linguistic imposter, and this is how I feel when the little red motion button is flashing across my screen.(Still learn the language for crap’s sake.) Little moving segments taking away from the real focus. The depth of the mental game played while looking for things that only exist in a fraction of a second. It’s not in my blood, it IS my blood.
This trip to Albania was unlike the first two. Each trip lives and breaths in its own fashion, ebbing and flowing. Twisting over humanity, the Earth and the dynamic of change. Each student a unique blueprint. Spacing, timing, composition carried like luggage. We are here to refine. That’s it. The foundations are there, each cracked based on history, environment and learned behavior. We spackle. That’s it. A little fill here and there, a little push, a little suggestion. The rest is on them. And they respond in ways you can’t imagine. It truly is remarkable. Chaos becomes order. Chaos becomes meaning. Chaos becomes story. And then it ends.
No books for two weeks. No real writing for two weeks. So, the fire burns hot. A plane delayed. Hours on the tarmac and my furnace churns out the blacky black of coal fire kept inside. Released through a violent, visual tapestry playing like a movie trailer in my mind. Eyes open, 8k vibrance of possibility as my analytical side tries to connect dots that never even knew they were in the same game. My inner self knows there is something more, something new, something undefinable at the present moment. My inner self knows the danger of playing this game. This game is the ONLY game and with it comes consequence whether I win or lose.
“I have an idea,” I say to no one in particular. I mingle with the flight crew. I mingle with fellow passengers, but it’s not actually me in those conversations. It is the old me. The one that found himself on thin ice with cracks racing toward the edges of the pond. The path is forward not back. At some point I will be forced to jump for safety. Mine or yours, could be either or both. Be prepared because when I reemerge as this “new” me it might bring pause. Or it might be the same me that was here before, perhaps with new paint, new carpet, drapes or a little spit and polish. There might be failed attempts. Just know I’m laughing inside.
My mother knew. “You will leave the moment you get your chance,” she said when I was very young. She and dad knew I was headed for the hills. No map, no destination. “Part of our family has wheels for feet,” she added. “Your uncle Lester died in China.” What if? Perpetual reinvention. I guess that’s where I’m at here, as are many of you but I take the time to spill it out here, on these digital pages. That’s perhaps the only difference.
A restlessness pervades. Kept at bay only by the duties upon me and the works of others. Watching the students is why I do these things. It’s certainly not the money or to make my own things as we progress. No, it’s about watching what emerges from uncertainty, unlearning and relearning. Watching success from early skirmishes. The war will be fought long into the future but the creative counterattacks explode via cameras balanced on carefully crafted hands. Light pressed through pixels. Lanced into the retina and tethered by fiber optic nerves. Wins and losses. Advances and retreats. The healing of emotional wounds.
This is why I’m here. Still photographs and the written word. “What would you be doing if you didn’t have to work?” “This,” I reply. “The same.”