Seminoles, Braves, Redskins — Indian culture permeates American life from sports teams to table-top advertising.
Upon entering the exhibit, there’s a sign titled Indians are everywhere in American life that reads:
“These images are worth a closer look. What if they are not trivial? What if they are instead symbols of great power? What if the stories they tell reveal a buried history — and a country forever fascinated, conflicted, and shaped by its relationship with American Indians?”
Did you know that Native American Ira Hayes was one of the six Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima?
One day we’re going to miss the powerful silence of the natural world, the way it smells and begs for an inquisition. That’s because “most people are on the world, not in it,” wrote the father of national parks John Muir.
In putting a “fence around nature,” we lock ourselves into a secluded wall of emotional current.
Nature nurtures, it humbles our deepest desires. Because we can’t control the skies, nor the mercurial blob of ourselves, we must give in to nature’s fickleness and beauty.
We’re going to be shocked when we wake up from digital’s second life and realize that becoming also means embracing the evolving whims of those things around us. We are overpowered by the Earth’s forces.
Let’s start off with the least significant photo of the year.
I shot the below soap bubble pool party while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.
While it’s my most downloaded photo on Unsplash, the only thing it reminds me of is the period where I was trying to finish up my book. Stuck in writer’s block, I remember walking around the hotel looking for inspiration when I heard party music and noticed large bath bubbles floating through the air. The 90s MTV-esque ‘spring break’ foam party was the perfect distraction from the agony of the unfinished manuscript.
What’s popular isn’t always what matters
However, my most meaningful photo from this year had to be the time my wife I and walked up Machu Picchu mountain. It was a true test of fitness, a devious mountain that tricked you into thinking the top was always closer than it was. It took an hour to go up and another hour to go down. But when you finished, we got to write our names in the logbook.
From the masks of Mexico City’s cheeky lucha libra wrestlers to the walls of art in dive bars and parks, to the boyhood fervor of an old man in his special puppet, Mexico City is very much a lived experience. To quote Edward Burnett Tylor:
“Taking it as a whole, Mexico is a grand city, and, as Cortes truly said, its situation is marvellous.”
Transformation can be exciting, but it can also be retrograde.
Change doesn’t mean better. Boredom with the status quo can sometimes beget darkness.
The function of play, a style of art, a kind of government, are meant to be noisy but unrestricted.
The stimulation of calm and collected still leaves space for the unimaginable and disruptive. However, going back seems to be an evil obsession at the present and the unfortunate direction of the future.
Success bears responsibility. All of a sudden, your work and words mean something because the first time in your life people who you’ve never met are listening to you.
“It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.”– D.W. Winnicott
The alternative to fame is anonymity. Van Gogh gained recognition after he died. Before that, he had only sold one painting to his brother.
For some, success turns people into leaders. For others, it causes them to curl back into their shell and their echoes to faint. The spotlight curbs their creative freedom.
For the rare few, they keep on trucking and stick to the person they’ve always been. When it comes to any notoriety, self-expression should always trump impression. The latter is never the point of doing good work.
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