The Pacific Northwest: Improvisation and Syncopation

Overheard on the #3,  “Jesus Christ am I tired, man. I’m so fucking exhausted. All these people, all these things. What’s the point?“

To which I silently replied into my moleskine:

Whatever this is worth, what the point is, I can’t say. Hell, man, in my naïveté, I struggle to even define art, yet I’ve been living like I’m on the run, tempting fate and acting smart, and, of late, learning to grow callus on my heart. 

 
So, I don’t know about all that, but I do know that the random, savage, ceaseless beauty of this city, these forests and shores – of this life – this moves and fills me with an ecstasy that betrays my stoicism. And, like any good medium-sized town hero this keeps me going: seeing meaning in mountain top and mop water alike, searching out scented bones and rhinestone studded cobra skins, being content to see sounds and taste colors. 
 
I used to think I was just another in a long storied line of dreamers turned cynics, of lyrical poets and dime-store Aquarians (ahem, still waiting on that transcendent age of enlightenment…). These days though, I’m trying my damnedest to be a peddler of positivity, not pessimism and, with this sea-change of perspective I’ve come to see a unique beauty in everything and everyone. Every moment too, I suppose. They move me, all of them. 
 

Point is, you got to find what moves you. If that’s not here, in this place and with these people, you have got to move yourself.

 

He continued:  “Love is my great lament…”
Again, I answered, in my own idiosyncratic way:Do you know that right now there’s someone out there praying into the night sky for you?For your love, your affection, attention, intention, for you?They sigh and let out a breath that they’ve been holding in since high school.

 

A breath they’d thought was long lost, like the person they once were. 

As surely as wine is the whiskey understudy, they’re still out there.
 

Still breathing.

Now:   You’re almost completely alone, my dear.

 

And, here, on this sherpaless descent, your self-pity counts for nothing. 
Your madness may be the only lover that ever really understood, that ever really believed you were good enough, and, together, if you stay on this path, you’ll live forever.

 


But, really, brother, who wants to live forever?

 

//

 

This last trek up to Seattle was a short, spontaneous trip, filled with intriguing strangers and old friends, cold streets and foreign forests, yet I don’t mind saying that it came together at the end to make a queer sort of sense. No small part of me wants to elaborate on the experiences had in the city, the shore, and the forest. To recount how the days were spent and the nights wasted, but I much rather prefer to share the above conversation I had between my little black notebook and an unknown man on the bus. I find it appropriate. After all, street photography is a visual statement about someone or something where you, the photographer, are saying look here, look now, this is worthwhile. The city, the world are moving and reacting; they’re breathing; they’re beautiful. And, if that isn’t a sort of visual jazz, an experience built on improvisation and syncopation then I don’t know what is.

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