On my walk with Raquel this afternoon we tried to break ice. The weather has improved, the snow is melting, but the ice, well, that’s going to take months to get rid of. Rain is coming. Lots of rain.
Posts from the ‘Photography’ Category
Two more months until Spring. The temperature outside has warmed significantly, bringing an end to the polar vortex’s merciless wrath. Soon the buds on the trees will begin blooming, the cherry blossoms in High Park will captivate and patio drinking will continue where it left off: Keeping us all happy.
The photo above is from one sunny, summer afternoon at the cottage. Things will change this year. The old cottage on Balsam Lake is going to be torn down and replaced with a new state-of-the-art building. We’ll now be able to enjoy its tranquil beauty year-round. And that’s a good thing. Now if I can just make it through all the construction.
Canada. Ontario. Toronto. I. Love. You.
During my trip to Bocas Del Toro, Panama last March, I spent a day in Panama City, and found this building. It’s the FF Tower, an office structure that Emporis selected among the top 10 best skyscrapers of 2011, landing in 7th place for its architectural excellence. I grabbed a shot of it while on the bus to the airport. I think it came out nice.
While walking this evening I finally found a Lovebot. For those of you unfamiliar with what I’m talking about let me explain.
A Love Robot is distributed around the city of Toronto where acts of kindness have been performed. The location and act of kindness attached to each Lovebot can be seen at an interactive map at lovebot.com.
Designed by artist Matthew Del Degan, the child-sized robots with their protruding red hearts and hug-ready arms are street art with a simple mission.
“To illuminate the love and wonder that exists in the concrete jungle and inspire more,” De Degan told the Toronto Star. The industrial design student at OCAD developed the Lovebot character four years ago in a class. It was first introduced as a sticker posted all over Toronto and around the globe.
Then he decided to take his imaginative creation to the next step by bringing them to tangible life. The task seemed terrifying at times, from designing the plywood moulds to procuring more than 11,300 kilograms of concrete.
The results have been warming the hearts of Torontonians for a couple of months now, and today was the first time I saw one in the flesh. It was a good thing too, the snow and freezing rain crippling the city will certainly come with stories of kind-hearted tales of citizens helping each other cope with the impending mayhem.
It’s all a very good thing.
This picture of Greta Garbo was taken during one of her long daily walks in New York City. An international film actress during the golden age of cinema, and known for her striking physical beauty, Garbo retired at the age of 35. She never worked again, and shunned the spotlight until her death at the age of 84 in 1990.
“Garbo-watching” became a sort of sport for photographers, the media, admirers, and curious New Yorkers, but she consistently ignored them and continued on her way. It was her avoidance of fame, attention and publicity that influenced her elusive mystique.
One of my favourite song lyrics comes from a Jann Arden song called The Sound of where she sings, “I am not lonely, swear to God, I’m just alone.”
As I’ve aged, I’ve tried to emulate Garbo’s solitary lifestyle, preferring to spend much of my time alone, or with a small group of close friends. There’s something special to be said about being alone; the quiet tranquility of personal thoughts is alluring. Like Garbo I am known to take long walks, but unlike her no one cares.
When I lived in Buenos Aires I was alone a lot. For some reason I wasn’t interested in making friends, though I managed to attend some social functions when inspiration surfaced. I reflect on that time in my life with a lot of sentiment because it was in those long days, with no one to talk to that improved my state of mind. It is where I found the peace that had illuded me for much of my life.
I’ve always maintained on this blog, and in my personal life, that I don’t care much for materials, possessions or status. I do not believe that an occupation determines my identity, my worth or even my character. I’m not wealthy, but I’m not poor. I’m not powerful, but I’m not powerless.
My happiness is not dependent on what I own, how many friends I have, or what my salary is. Happiness is derived from knowing myself, who I am, innately. It comes with self-reflection, awareness, mindfulness and thoughtful acts. I have to admit that this personal philosophy of mine has made it challenging to find my purpose in life, or at the very least, my place in this vast cosmos that insists that convention is essential for success.
I see many people, each and every day who are held hostage by their own self-importance. Who maintain that their occupation, their titles and their salary is their identity, their worth, their value. It’s so easy to fall into this trap when you consider that our society practically demands that we surrender to these norms.
I’ve fallen in my life when I’ve surrounded myself with individuals who are lost, who have relented to the social constructs that forces many of us to forget what’s really important. And that for me, is kindness. I have little tolerance for mean-spirited thoughtless remarks levied in my direction, or anyone else’s for that matter. And I let my argument against these treatments be known with authority.
All this bad behaviour now plays out on television in the form of reality television. Fame is the goal, to be achieved at any cost, even if it requires depleting another person’s dignity or self-confidence. When we are a victim of someone’s caustic behaviour we retaliate, seeking revenge by using similar tactics that have been used against us. We twist facts, justify our actions, use other people as weapons to make our points or as evidence, to be used against our enemies so as not to reflect on how we can improve ourselves, our lives and the lives of others. We call this behaviour normal, an eye-for-an-eye, fair game, but it’s really just mindlessness. It’s reactionary.
The other day I spent a considerable amount of time watching a marathon viewing of the television show Millionaire Matchmaker which follows Patti Stanger, owner of the Beverly Hills-based “Millionaire’s Club” dating service, who matches single wealthy people with compatible dates.
Throughout the show Patti labels her guests, after only knowing them for several minutes. She belittles their appearance, endorses vanity and judges them on shallow, superficial grounds. Surprisingly people fear her, respect her and look up to her.
Often the millionaires are men, who are looking for an Eva Mendes, or Jessica Biel type girlfriend. Their income is über important, and the women, who are constantly referred to as “girls”, vie for their attention in the hopes of being the chosen one. The show then follows the couple on their “first date” which almost always involves a fairytale motif.
Many of the women talk in little girl voices, openly admit to being a “daddy’s girl” and want very much to live the life of a “princess.” This is it. This is normal. This is what people consume, watch and covet as the models for their own lives. It says something disturbing about our culture that I find almost indefensible.
Thoughtfulness. I come back to that word a lot in my life. We spend an insurmountable amount of time thinking about ourselves don’t we? It’s understandable, I get it, I do too. The world is a complicated place, difficult to navigate and impossible to understand.
When we focus on ourselves, we often forget to appreciate our privilege. Across the planet billions of animals are living in deplorable factory farm conditions, begging to be heard, saved, soothed, loved. But for us, it’s more important to satisfy our gluttony at a nice restaurant.
Tonight in Toronto a single mother will feel helpless, fearful that she won’t be able to afford dinner for her children. The elderly, abused kids, the disabled and countless others are not as lucky or as privileged as we are. Yet here we are, worrying about trivial matters like clothes, makeup and our appearances.
Thoughtfulness. Self-awareness. Mindfulness. To borrow from Amy Jellicoe, we can all be an agent of change for good in the world. It takes a little courage, some selflessness, sacrifice. How much money do you need anyway? How much recognition? How much fame? How many awards? How many rewards?
Due to the wealth she earned from her early success, Garbo was keenly aware of the absurdity of her chosen profession and therefore abandoned it, at 35. The same age that I will turn in four months. She was brave.
When I consider how fame hungry our society has become, where any attention, negative or positive is coveted so savagely, Garbo’s choice is admirable because it represents her integrity of character.
She was famously quoted as saying that she just wanted to be alone. But what she really said was that she wanted to be let alone. There is a big difference. Yet somehow, the media wouldn’t even afford her something everyone in life deserves: privacy.
Maybe she knew where North American society was heading. Maybe she thought to herself that adopting the lifestyle of a recluse was the only remedy. Maybe she was trying to set a precedence, an example for others to follow. Maybe she was just living her life the way she wanted to.
I guess we’ll never know. Whatever her intention, I thought of her today as I sat here alone, by myself, reflecting on my luck, my blessings. It’s rumoured that in her retirement Garbo donated considerable amounts of money to charities. The exact figure is unknown because she always gave anonymously. She didn’t want to make a fuss. She wanted to do good.
My last post until 2014. Have a good one y’all! Chau.
This is one of my favourite photographs. He was an old friend who passed away five years ago. Here he is, braving the Ontario winter back in the 1930s, his whole life ahead of him. Imagine his hopes, his plans for the future. He was a father, a grandfather, a husband. And now, oddly, he ceases to exist, except in the memories of those who continue to love him.
One day someone will stumble upon an old photograph of us, and behind each smile, each gaze is a life story that will go largely untold. The happiness, the sorrow, love gained and lost — it will all be there, etched in one simple photograph, the wrinkles of our past, present and future.
Life is one big mystery.
Christmas Eve. My tofurkey is in the freezer, the wine is on the table, I’m snuggled up on the couch all warm from the dipping temperatures outside, about to play a movie.
Another year. I can’t say I’m any better off than I was this time last year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
For me Christmas is a time to be still, to rest, to take a break from the madness of our busy lives. And so that’s what I’m doing right now. Just being.
To everyone reading, have a joyous holiday season.
Little Bubbles was rescued from the streets of Colombia. Lisa saved her from a life of misery, and shipped her all the way to Canada. She’s a great dog, full of love. She cuddles with me while I sleep. Like Maude does. Who by the way, is nuts. Seriously, Maude is losing her marbles. But that’s a story for another day.