Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Finding myself alone in the wilderness
Over the last 4 nights as I traveled through Death Valley I was unable to find a single vacancy at any of the motels along the way. Three of the four nights I slept in my car under the stars. Sounds romantic until you realize how small the sleeping space is in the car. There would be no hot shower in the morning either, only cold water from a bottle to wash my face. On the fourth night I ended up at an RV Camper park and still had to sleep in the car but there was a hot shower for the campers and even an electrical outlet to recharge my camera batteries. What a luxury and all for under $20 with my AAA membership card.
Events like this make me wonder why I am doing this in the first place. It's not an easy or comfortable trip by any means. It's like I tell my students, the best photograph is often not taken from the most convenient location. I am not after a quick snapshot but rather a carefully studied and framed composition. I have been claiming up hills and down sand dunes fully loaded with all my gear to get to just the right point of view. I think I could even loose a few pounds with all the walking.
At some deeper level I kind of knew what I was getting into here. I wanted the unknown to shape the events of my experience. In this way I could learn something about taking better pictures and once there in that deeper level I could learn something about myself. Mostly we don't know how we will respond to unpredictable events, we hope that they will not be catastrophic, we hope they will bring out the best in us and in so doing we are the better for it. Sometimes the reward is profound and other times it is mundane. I believe sleeping in the car to be one of those mundane learning experiences. It is possible that in younger days I would not have noticed the cramped quarters. The adventure would supersede all else. Now it is a sacrifice I am willing to make, some small discomfort for the opportunity to experience the big picture and open myself the big mind.