So just as I get a hankering to prioritize photographic captures with people, everybody goes home and becomes shut ins. Was it something I said?
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A good friend, something of a social butterfly for whom our current social distancing model is akin to torture, signed off a recent series of texts with ‘hope you don’t get too bored at home’. Which, as I pointed out, is very difficult. I’m the opposite of a social butterfly – I’m an extreme introvert. I have declined invitations to exhibit at certain galleries because they require volunteer hours working with the public. There are so many things I’m interested in that keep me preoccupied. Boredom only becomes an issue when I can’t decide what to do next.
One of those things that so interest me is history, to an extent that I consider myself an amateur historian on some subjects. I’m fascinated by the shifts in culture, societies, economies, and, of course, people. A subset of history is the question of purpose. The purpose of any given individual to the course of history.
This is one of those circular, meaning of life questions that may especially arise at night, music playing, a couple single malts down the gullet: ‘Why am I here?’ For most of us, ‘purpose’ is hidden in the minutia. Little ways we interact with people or things we throw out into the universe may just that tiny little bit move the ball forward in ways we can never calculate.
But there’s a relative multiplier to ‘purpose’ in juxtaposition to history.
History is not an even flow. It recedes, it moderates, and at times it gushes. When it gushes, ‘purpose’ expands in magnitude. It’s still incalculable to most people, we’re still just incrementally moving the ball forward. But the ball is moving faster.
In our present circumstances we are not at war, and saying we are is imbecilic, incitement to overreact, and belittling to those who have indeed experienced the horror of real war. It is not a virus to be labeled with a particular nation or race as a scapegoating tool of incompetent political expediency. What once passed as ‘status quo’ will not be returning in a few weeks, or months, or years. We have entered a period of profound change, and how we engage now will define our tomorrow. Ask yourself, why am I alive, now?
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.