White rose, Paris.
After months of searching in San Francisco, London and Paris for a certain macro lens, in October I finally found it (in Paris). I took these two photos right off the bat, without bothering to read the instruction manual or taking time to play with the lens. Sadly, I haven't had time to pick up that lens since, although I can see intriguing possibilities with it.
The first photo (above) reminds me of the way my life is now - feeling a bit out of focus, wilted and neglected; overworked; overwhelmed; not getting enough sleep or exercise and breaking my own rules about maintaining the mind-body balance that helps keep me sane.
The second photo seems to suggest inner light at the core of the rose. To me, that image symbolises the creativity struggling to shine through amidst all these obligations and demands on my time. For months now, I've been juggling too many projects, just trying to keep my head above water. Between travel and deadlines, I've had very little time to socialise, relax and recharge.
Today, a friend who lives in Paris became exasperated with me. We haven't seen each other since July. Granted, he travels nearly every week, but even when we're both in town, we can't seem to meet. Via email Monday, we agreed to meet for lunch one day next week. He emailed today, "I've penciled it in my calendar" then added, for good measure, "I hope it will become reality."
I had to laugh, as his words were a potent reminder of just how off-balance I've allowed my life to become lately. So this afternoon I phoned him with reassurance that - barring any unforeseen disaster - I'll see him next week.
Late in September when we were trying to find time to meet, I'd emailed him saying,
"Sorry to be so difficult. Things are a bit mad in my world at the moment - a magazine asks to use photos and I spend an hour searching for them, only to discover I've deleted the originals. So I send other photos which they're happy to use, but could I shoot one of this and that, etc. etc. which requires trekking across Paris? An advertising company asks if they can license my Coit Tower photos. An Australian publisher wants to use a photo (that I took without permission in Liberty, London) in a book, which poses all sorts of copyright issues. And before I know it, hours have passed dealing with these unexpected things. I must learn to say no (Perfect example - the English lessons. Do I have time for these? No. But the boy's mother's friend ... pleaded and made it seem like he was falling way behind if I didn't help.) Meanwhile the editor in London keeps asking about rewrites. And I just want to run away from home!"
Alas, about the only thing that's changed since that message is that Dylan's English has improved. Educating Dylan is a bit like a community project. He lives in Neuilly, across the Bois de Boulogne from my apartment. After school, he walks to the building gardien's office - who is friends with Dylan's mother - and she escorts him to my apartment for a 45-minute lesson once a week. I've never met Dylan's parents, but it seems they both work long hours. Dylan is an only child and was struggling in his English class, when the gardien first requested my assistance. A couple of years ago I helped her teenage son through a rough time in his English class and he ended up getting high marks and advancing to a better school. So I'm hoping Dylan will achieve some minor success.
Today my elusive friend and I talked about the Chinese belief about opportunity and disaster being two sides of the same coin. We agreed that - except for the general state of chaos - everything is fine. I know there are lessons to be learned about limits and balance. So why do I feel so guilty if I get everything expected of me accomplished in a timely manner, but don't have enough time and energy left over for my friends and family - or even for myself?
My friend said I need an assistant, but an assistant couldn't work on my book(s) in progress, my articles and my blog, nor could an assistant take my photographs. It's all up to me. While I'm tremendously grateful for these wonderful opportunities coming my way, I'm just not feeling or looking much like Wonder Woman these days.
It doesn't help that Paris is grey, cool and rainy. No matter the weather, I've decided tomorrow I will spend much of the day taking photos, keeping my distance from my desk and laptop. Never mind that I haven't had time to post the majority of photos taken in Antwerp, Barcelona and even around town. I need to get out and about with my camera! Maybe I'll even figure out how to use that new lens... Or perhaps I'll find a few moments of quiet and serenity elsewhere.
Beany and Cecil
How do you rescue yourself from the myriad demands on your time and energy? Come on,'fess up - spill your secrets! (Please! Many of you are probably too young to remember the television cartoon "The Beany and Cecil Show." Beany, a little boy who always wore a beanie cap, would get into terrible predictments and shout for Cecil to rescue him. "Help, Cecil, help! Help, Cecil, help!" And Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent would charge to the rescue, exclaiming, "I'm coming, Beany Boy!)
Absent a cartoon-character rescue, what works for you? One thing I've found soothing lately is French television's late-night revival of 1930s Busby Berkeley musicals. They were designed to cheer up the populace during the Depression. Except for a few over-the-top tunes, the plots - and some of the amazing geometric-patterned choreography - still amuse and entertain today.