What are entry points into contemplation and consideration that pass us by?
I haven't thought like this in years, and when the question started to come to me in New York--starting up the stairs to leave the subway, waiting for a taxi on the Lower East Side, crossing the Kosciuszko Bridge Living in a city with street life, this question is once again valid, and parts of my personality and thought life have come out of their sleep to answer.
When I lived in Mexico City, it was all I could do to keep up with the pace of conversation during the workday, and by evening, I had little left to offer and would plod home across the sidewalks hewn by tree roots into my quiet, empty room, where I would hide from my Argentine housemates and wonder what, exactly, I was doing learning Spanish-language Microsoft Excel shortcuts.
The pride I took in being able to decipher with turns of phrase and metaphor the existential trumpet calls echoing from somewhere deep in the production department of my soul was being dismantled, hewn through like the sidewalks by thicker roots by foreign flora. In time, I would see it was an oak tree; at the moment, I feared it was a weed.
So I decided to answer the questions without words but through image. I took my semi-functional iPhone 4 up and down Roma and Condesa, shooting whatever crossed my lens and caught my eye. For the first time, I didn't care that I had no words to describe concepts like balance, tone, symmetry, perspective, texture and composition in which I was bobbing and weaving. I only cared that taking pictures helped answer the rhetorical question of how I could feel so isolated and so connected at the same time.
I've found myself ducking out more and more to walk midtown and Brooklyn, alone with my thoughts, anonymous to everyone, but somehow whole and steady-breathing in a familiar rhythm. I caught a word on a Saturday afternoon radio show that has had staying power as I try to find reasons why and how I process what I do (I don't try that hard--they're just pictures. It's just walking.) The word is "affordance". Technically, it means "the possibility of action on an object in an environment". Poured over the grounds of my understanding, I take it to mean a wormhole in everyday life that leads to a different plane of perception. What makes an evening walk not just a necessary commute but much more? For me, it's butter-yellow light through a storefront window, oil-pan fluid casting inky abstractions on street corner puddles, and the buzzing of fluorescent and neon diffusing into the hum of Park and 42nd.