This week has been my best week of photography since moving to Colorado. What was different about this week from past? Actually picking up my camera and going out. “Wow! What a simple concept.” you may be thinking to yourself, but it hasn’t been always the forefront of what I wanted to do. But when I found myself rewatching a few YouTube videos by one of my favorite photographers Matt Day, I was remined of why I started the Top 10. It was a way to document my life.
So, yes my life doesn’t necessarily have a lot of people in it right now, but there is still a lot of beauty and light everywhere if I just stop and look for it. So that’s what I did. With a few photo walks planned into my day and carrying my camera with me to a few locations when I went out of the house, I was able to find and capture some images that I am proud of.
I know when I write these little captions out that it seems to always be a variation on the same story. A struggle to create, and then something pushing me to overcome it. That’s the artist struggle. Each day you have to start the fire again. If any of you have ever tried to create or start a new habit you know the struggle.
So here we go again at trying to make this stick. If I falter, hold me accountable. (With grace and love please). But as always I hope you enjoy this weeks images. And I hope when you look through you take a moment and appreciate each one. Spend a little time with it instead of the typical social media scroll fast.
Alright, that’s enough words. I shall now let the images speak.
For any of you counting that was technically 11 images. The final, not my own, but one I’m grateful my roommate picked up my camera and just snapped. I don’t often end up on the other side of the lens, but when I do… :)
It was a typical morning for me here in Colorado. I brewed my tea and made my way down to the park with Aria to spend the waking hours of the day reading Jonah Berger’s Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behaviors. Since I picked it up in a lot of free books a few weeks back, I had been excited to open the pages and see what knowledge was to be uncovered since I have noticed how my behavior can change drastically.
I’m one who thrives off the presence of friends, family, and people in general. It’s as if I take in all the idle energy from around the room and throw it back out in a wild array of colors. Dancing wildly, it comes to my surprise that I’m able to make people smile, laugh, and realize that today is a beautiful day to be loved and to love. Or, I settle into a quiet people-watching overthinker who spends hours and days collecting mental notes, churning them over and over in a hope to gain a better understanding of the world around him thereby, hopefully, understanding himself.
In both of these states, I have noticed a craving to be different. I want to think different, rebel against the status-quo, and find a new way of doing things. I do this even if the classic way is a tried and true method with consistent results. this has led to some fun ideas and successful ventures, but it has also turned my back on things I love.
*I would love to think this comes from a striving to improve, but I have recently begun to think it’s a slightly more egotistical approach to leave my mark on the world, which I’m not sure I like 100%*
So when I once again turned the page and got right hooked, I lay in a state of confusion for days…
“Why would you want to be different from everyone else when everyone else is the family members and friends and others you care about? Wouldn’t it be better to share experiences than be alone?”
Since moving here to Colorado, I have spent many day’s alone. Yes I have Aria, who brings about many smiles and companionship.
But In terms of people, I have yet to meet any stable friends that live in a close enough proximity to see regularly. And that SUCKS.
There have been days where I have mentally fallen apart. Let me explain what this looks like…
It starts with a hope to do something in the day. It could be as simple as going out for a hike or down to the climbing gym. But a little voice in my head chimes in to say, “No, don’t do that. No one is there to do it with you so it will be boring, a waste of time.” Seemingly convinced, I fall down a rabbit hole of social media and YouTube to flood out that voice with other information. Other voices. A few hours later, I realize I’m not in control of what has been happening. So I get up full of energy to try and change my current state only to have the little voice chime in once again and stop me in my tracks repeating the cycle. A few days this has happened in such a vicious cycle, I never left my room and ended the day crying in the shower.
Other days, I have done the exact opposite. I wake up early, I pack some food and Aria and I go and get lost in the mountain wilderness. We explore taking in all the new sights and smells and for a day feel on top of the world. Away from phones, social media, and the daily realities of the world. I, as I can’t speak for Aria, start to find an inner peace in the time we are taking to rest in a hammock perched up with the aspens.
And yet I struggle to find this all to be more than just a mask of the pain that I feel inside as there is a constant voice whispering, “this would be much more enjoyable with others.” Which, in my thrive off people state is true! There are many things that I’m doing now that I would like to do with others. Watching a movie at the end of the day, hiking up a new mountain peak, walking around town on a phot walk. These are all activities that for me would be enhanced with other people around. This is not to take away from the peace and freedom you get from independent exploration, but rather it’s my desire to finally feel like I have some form of community again around me.
But there is a stipulation, it can’t just be any people, It has to be the right people.
Without these people, my community that I tapped into, I have been trying to get more comfortable being alone. Through some massive failures and small success I have begun to find out how to be alone and not just feel lonely.
The first thing I have done is create a frequency chart. A small piece of notebook paper with the names of people and a small note of how often I think I should contact them and a column indicating if I have contacted them. From the everyday people to those that are more monthly, this little piece of paper not only reminds me that there is a large community of people surrounding me at all times, thanks to mobile phones and social media, but that they are there to be talked to, and even though apart we can still build community together. Humans are tribal beings. And of of the most fundamental parts of being a member of the tribe is being informed. We do this through communication.
Secondly, I have tried to take anytime I am feeling strong emotions and express it, not withhold it. Whether this is in a photo, calling a friend, or sitting at the piano for 15 minutes, I’ve tried to get better at expressing myself. If you know me at all, you know very well how I can just eat my feelings only to have my purge with a close friend. Well, while out here, strong emotions have come about much more frequently and I have begun to realize I must deal with them on my own. Maybe it’s growing up, but If I can handle some of the burden myself, I realize I can then reach out when needed, and more importantly be in a better position to help when called upon.
Third, I have begun to embrace routine. In a conversation almost two years ago I was explaining to my friend Hannah how I love to just take each day for what it is. Seeing what comes up and where I get pulled. Following the wind. While she kindly said she admired it, she stated that for herself a routine is needed, yet she leaves the room for flexibility. At the time I just chalked this up as two different ways to approach life. Yet, as I have gone on, I find that her words and approach have come back to be something I embrace. I thought I was unique when I realized just the other day that a simple routine gets my day started, but with these open periods for novelty I can keep going. ( I can’t do the same thing each day or I will go insane.) But with some reflection I realized that I had a little bit of a friend’s wisdom finally starting to bloom. To that I am thankful.
Fourth, I have deliberately put myself in situations to be alone. At the local climbing gym there is a small restaurant/bar. They were having a showing of a movie followed by a small trivia night the other day and I really wanted to go. Yet, the voice came back. After almost just bypassing and going home, I resolved to go. When I sat down, I realized that everyone else there had a partner. A friend, a spouse, a small family everybody was surrounded by their community. I was alone. At first, this was not the best feeling. Yet as I settled, I found myself enjoying my pretzel and the movie. They were activities that I wanted to do and doing them brought me joy. Even when halfway through I started to wish to have a companion with me, I still found joy in the decision to go. Then at trivia night, I was swept up into a small group and we shared some laughs and the night became way better than what would’ve been if I had just gone home.
Lastly, I have learned to appreciate just sitting and being bored. It was a ted talk that helped throw some ideas out that I was able to learn from.
While Chris Bailey was talking about focus, he mentions the idea that we need to increase our capacity to be bored. By avoiding the constant rush of dopamine, the stimulation of never ending content, we can increase our capacity to focus on a singular topic. This for me has been just sitting with myself and seeing how long I can go without the phone, without the piano, without my camera. And what I have discovered is that this is the period where my brain gets the space to be creative. The space to come up with new ideas and process all of the above. A space to discover who I am. Which In my thinking, is one of the reasons that I have uncovered for moving. Not something blatantly obvious in the making of my choices to move, but found after the fact.
So all in all, why I have decided to move and be different? I guess to find myself? Or really, it’s to keep learning about myself. This is a new experience, and from these new experiences I have learned and will continue to learn about who I am as a person. I will continue to lean on the community I have created, expressing myself and my emotions, build a routine I love whilst leaving room for novelty, placing myself in situations to appreciate the activity for what it is, and give myself time to be bored. Each day after all is 24 hours to spend the way I choose. So when I wake up I know I may find myself feeling alone out here in the state of Colorado, but in no way am I alone.
If you haven’t noticed, my weekly top 10 has taken a bit of a hiatus. Looking back, it’s been almost two months since I last posted in this blog. Does this mean I wasn’t taking any photos? No, anything but! In that time frame there have been a host of activities and growths that have occurred. So, in honor of starting back to the top 10’s here is a Top 10 from this most recent time period in my life.
- My Dad came to Texas and took us on a mini family tour. I got to see San Antonio not as a site of a free day, but as a place of family history and childhoods. Also peacocks… that was a suprise.
- I took portraits of half of my Grandparents. There is a wealth of knowledge that comes from elders and I can only hope that the images I took showcase them in their true beauty, character, and wisdom. More on this soon. And now to capture my mom’s side.
- I went home to spend time with family and see some friends that I haven’t seen in a while. It’s amazing that even in that time you can still catch up from where you left off.
- I went on a two week road trip with my younger brother. It was his brain child. I just provided some destinations and the driving. Not knowing where this was going to go, I am happy with the adventures we had and the laughs we shared before he moved into college. If he is reading this, Jeep Wrangler.
Also more to come to this album
- I broke my digital camera. But Dan??!? How is this a top moment?!?! Well, it forced me to shoot a lot of film. Slowing me down. Making my shooting more intentional and allowing me more time to be in the moment. This happened in a Canyon in New Mexico and at the time I was visibly frustrated. Reflecting, it was a good lesson. Expensive, but good.
- I said goodbye to Denton. Goodbyes are probably something I hate the most, and it’s not every goodbye. It’s just the one’s that have uncertainty in them. Will I be back to visit? Yes, that little town is my own little piece of eclectic paradise in a way. What I don’t know is who I may have seen for the last time. And that’s what hurts.
- I said hello to Colorado Springs. Moving is always a challenge. To rebuild your community, find your daily rhythm, all of this is new (especially in Covid times) but there is one thing that hasn’t changed. Me. I still get to control what I do as well as where I explore. So far, there’s lots to love. Just gotta find my people. Also this weather is whack.
- I became an Elementary Band Director. Of THREE Schools. Kinda reminds me of what it was like for my elementary director. I know I said I was not pursing band full time, but didn’t know that this opportunity to teach two days a week at 3 schools would come about. It’s nice due to it providing stability in fiances as well as giving me much time to keep photographing what I love.
- I brewed a amazing batch of Blueberry Mint Limeade Kombucha. It was something I’ve been trying to get better at, ever since Karl first had me try all those many years ago, and I finally made a batch I’m really satisfied with. Sorry no, picture so uhhh… here is this :)
- I took a break from chaos. By the end of school, I found myself in a world that was hectic and spinning all around me. Covid, uncertainty of not applying for a traditional job, all on top of the move. It was a time that with a mask on of confidence, I was falling apart on the inside over the fear of Adulthood. Turns out, in time, it all works itself out. And truly, I think this will be a good time to just relax and realign myself. As I saw on a facebook post from my favorite professor today, Be where your feet are.
That’s all for now. I will dive into more detail about some of these things in the near future and, well, may even start a youtube channel of sorts? A whole bag of creative ideas in the works. Don’t forget to tell somebody you love them today. Even if it’s your dog.