Southern Views

Airports are interesting places to go to.  Since Atlanta’s airport is so large, it is a wonderful area to just visit if watching people is an interest.  Sometimes I will just sit back and watch the endless ebb and flow of people as they hurry back and forth.  While I never have been interested in photography, there are times when I wish I did have that interest.  Faces are truly great works of art and quite often I see one that I wish that I could capture on film.    Photos have a way of making the perceiver see one particular moment, one scene and in doing so making the mundane come alive with meaning and beauty.

(Photo by quinn.anya)

A friend of mine, James, is a very good photographer and I am amazed at some of the things that he will capture on film.   His first book, which he wrote and accompanied with his photos, sold very well and another is coming out in which he worked with another author, she the writer and his photos used for emphasis. One of my favorites, from his first book, is a picture taken of an old window with dirty panes, filled up with junk.  Yet the photo comes across as something very beautiful.  I don’t know why this is so.  Perhaps in the photo I am forced to see the colors, the different forms that make up the junk and then able to step back and see how in chaos there is beauty.

Moments fly by, so it is hard to be present to all of them. So pictures store them for those who are willing to take the time and simply observe.  I have gone back from time to time to see the window and it is a different experience for me now.  I see it as something beautiful; in the past I hardly noticed it.  Something so ordinary, bracketed.  I fear that as I go through life I miss more than I actually see.

Not all photos are beautiful, can’t be, since life is filled many things, events and objects that are not beautiful.  Yet even then, one is forced to contemplate that particular slant that any photographer takes.  Not always pleasant, yet afterward there are changes that occur, even if often unnoticed.

I am not a collector of memorabilia, yet I do have a large envelope that I will on occasion drop notes and pictures.  I will once in awhile, perhaps every three or four years, dip into the container and give everything a look over.  The experience is always bitter-sweet, seeing things from my recent and distant past.  Little bits of my life that I have chosen to cling to, some of them very silly really, yet important to me, no doubt boring for others if they actually took a look, sort of like looking at old family photos from another family.  No connection.  Well these simple everyday items have a deep connection with me.  Nostalgia always makes me bleed a little inside, both pleasurable and painful, a strange mix.  Little notes received are also commonplace moments frozen in time.  Just looking at them brings up forgotten memories with an emotional punch.  No wonder I only look at them once in a long while.

We rush through our years; all of us are surfers riding the high wave as it moves across the ocean to one day break upon a larger shore.  Some do it better than others; some stand all their lives, elegant, graceful, and moving along.  Then there are those like me, who at times, more often than not, just hold on for dear life.  Or if I do from time to time stand up, I wobble.  I get sea sick very easily which makes the trip a little more interesting.  Clinging is good, for falling off means no getting back on.  So the trip, this riding the crest is short, which makes it all the more precious.  Perhaps that is what nostalgia is really, looking back and perhaps seeing what was that is now gone.  I think it is making me cherish the present more, being present to the fluidity of time, which is again bitter sweet, but really, it give life a deeper color even it means also a continual letting go.  We do it anyway, for me best to be conscious of it, the letting go.  It prepares us for the big letting go when the wave finally crashes upon the shore.

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Mark Dohle

Mark Dohle

I am 62 years old and have lived in the Atlanta area since 1971.  I am Catholic and my faith is important to me, yet as I age the mystery continues to deepen, so I read broadly and try to keep things somewhat open ended. I work with the aged and the dying. I was in the Navy for four years and I guess I am life of center when it comes to politics, but not too far left. Actually, I am kind of a political moron.

I am the third of  11 children; ten still alive, one died in in 1958, three days after birth.