the barriers between all of me

barriers 2

it’s time for a confession.

i know, yes, i confess here all the time, it seems to be the purpose of this compendium, a sifting of my digital detritus that drifts through the aether to shimmer vaguely on your screen.

but this is serious. this is something hidden, something never said before.

i’m a hoarder.

not in the physical sense. i don’t have stacks of newspapers lining my wall, or every pair of shoes i’ve ever owned, or, i shudder even as i type this, closets filled with ceramic clowns.  having had to move a lot in my life, i’m in the habit of performing a yearly zen-down of all my stuffs, donating some, tossing others, clearing away the dross to see the gold better.

i hoard inspiration. mostly images. but words, as well. and music. and ideas, although those can be very tricky to corral.

i’ve got notebooks crammed with phrases, sentences, slant rhymes, interesting word combinations and quotes, and a shopping bag full of hasty scribblings on receipts, post-its, ripped off box-tops, anything that was handy when the words came.

my biggest collection, however, is pictures. allow me to illustrate.

leaving for work this morning, looking down at the walkway to make sure i don’t slip on any ice, i see leaves, the size of a finger, fine and thin and a peculiar grey color. i think huh, those look like feathers. i get to work, where i don’t actually work, but look up pictures of leaves, and i find an artist who cuts leaves into people’s silhouettes, so i look up silhouettes, and i find a some of seahorses, which leads me to tattoos, which leads me to everywhere. and all along the way, like breadcrumbs, i’m collecting. marveling at the veins of a leaf, and the veins of curiosity that i follow, never-ending, the attractions along the wayside always fascinating.

sometimes, i go back. i read the photos, i look at the phrases, i gaze at the bulging amalgam of ideas arrayed before me, and i try not to think.

because inspiration is a fragile thing. like the complex system of ourselves, there are things unexplainable, random interactions of different elements that produce, sometimes, a flash of certainty, of yes, this. of course, this. nothing can be truly created without it. in the absence of inspiration, things are simply made.

as i’ve been simply made.

when i think of myself, i see my parts very distinctly. i separate, somehow, how i look, what i do, the words that come out of my mouth as its own entity, apart from what goes on inside me, so much less concrete, a writhing mass of neuroses and brilliance and survival and joy.

i am a collector. i bring things in, and process them through my slightly deranged filter, and cycle the results back into the aether. i’m constantly inspired by small things, by bizarre things, by things no one else sees.

but it’s always passive. honestly, and i think, perhaps, we all feel this, i’m convinced that i have little to contribute. that my words will never be as interesting when said aloud as they do while echoing inside me, or that my ideas will shine less brightly if brought out into a scrutinizing light.

it is amazing to me, then, when i’m told that i’ve inspired someone else. and i’ve been hearing that a lot lately. truly, more than i’m comfortable with. all i can think is oh, no, please, that vein will lead you nowhere, there’s nothing to see there… but then i remember the strange places i’ve plucked ideas from myself, and i take it for the honor it is, and follow it, like bread crumbs, sustenance as i go further down the path.

a path that began with a few little pictures.

i’ve always loved photography. it was something i shared with my pops, so it’s precious to me, as there was little of that growing up. he built a darkroom in our basement, and showed me how to develop film, and we would drive around town, stopping here and there when something caught our eye. but i hated when pictures were taken of me. i wanted to be behind the lens. passive.

one night, several years ago, my head was screaming and my insides were sore, and i was full, too full, and i had no lines anymore, no barriers between all of me, and it’s not rational, not at all, but i felt the need to document that. to have proof of what i looked like at that moment, what a soul looks like as it’s poured out of the skin. i had to do it. it was a compulsion. there’s no other way to describe it.

i was terrified to look at them when it was done. so scared of what i’d see. who i’d see. but as i went through the shots, all i saw was beauty. somehow, i had become beautiful. and my mind quieted, and my insides ached a little less. i was struck by the clarity i saw in my eyes. and i thought here. yes, of course. here. the pain had cleared the dross away, and i saw, i think for the first time, myself.

ever since then, the urge will sometimes come upon me, and i’ll take the weekend, and self-document. it happens, yes, when i’m screaming again, but also when i’m singing inside. no matter, it always brings me balance.

these photoshoots have been, until recently, private. my own way to cope when the collection inside becomes too large, for good or ill. sometimes, i go back. i look at my face, i read my eyes, and remind myself, again, of who i am.

yes, i am a collection of words and images. but i take in many things from the people who surround me as well. and i was inspired, by a certain, sweet tiffany reisz, to share my photos. i made a gift of my self. i spoke the words of my self. i shined the ideas of my self.

i’ve gotten braver with my shoots. and i’ve since shared them with others. because i’m realizing that i’m part of the complex system of life. a participant. one of the random elements that, when colliding with others, can produce a glorious flash that brings us all just a little closer.

so, now, a next step. sharing these photos with you. i asked the recipient to choose a theme. they gave me black and red. now i give you me.

my inspiration was rita hayworth.

i hope you enjoy what i’ve created.


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