Stan Lee left the planet. California is burning. And, in a few days I am officially over the hill.
I was thinking today about the things that I’ve seen in my own lifetime. A president assassinated. His brother killed. A man of peace killed for wanting equality. A war in Southeast Asia that reverberates today. Man walking on the moon. A president resigning in disgrace. A president working to heal the country. Oil shortages. New electric cars emerging. Technology developing and blooming. The end of the Cold War. Germany reunited. Climate change that could end life on Earth sooner than we think. A never-ending war in Afghanistan. And, a shorter war in Iraq that gave birth to ISIS. Mass shootings everywhere. A president elected who does not have the skills, mentality or empathy to lead anybody. A country so polarized that being torn in two is an improvement. Immigrants walking, walking, walking…
And yet, I have hope. I believe in people. I believe that our best angels will eventually win the day. I believe in small steps. This last midterm election was about that. It proved that people of color, people of different religions, and women, may finally be starting to get their due. For sure, that fight isn’t over. Only one battle was won. But, it’s a start.
It should make us smile. It didn’t. I believe that our expectations may have been too high. I’m certain that we are all tired.
I do not remember a time when a sitting U.S. president was in our face all day, every day. I also don’t remember a time when a U.S. president flew to France not to honor our war dead. Not to work with his peers around the world. And, not to join them in a meeting for peace. All of this makes me tired. I’m sure that it makes you tired.
All of this went through my head when I made the picture. They tell you that the best way to photograph in the street is to clear your head and not think of anything. Just see it, focus on it, push the button. What I did was a little different. I didn’t think about the picture. I thought about other stuff. The stuff that I just wrote about. I made a very simple picture. My picture. My kind of picture.
I just looked up at the scene and though, “that’s a nice contrast.” That was it. I was mostly lost in thought. About the world. About me. About my place in it.
No. No. No.
My place isn’t as bleak as all the news. It’s actually pretty good. I have to make some choices. I have some decisions to make. And, move forward. Don’t worry. I’m not going to uproot anything big, like family. We are considering moving. I am coming to grips with 45 years of archives and what to keep, what to toss and what to put out there in the world. I am also trying to sort out a couple of new projects that sort of popped up when I was reading about something else.
I’d like to lay out the framework for this in eight days. That’s my birthday. I can start my birth year with a good idea of some direction. Maybe in ten years I can complete it. Sheesh. It’s a tough thing. I’ve been wrestling with all of this for well over a year. I’m like a shaken up bottle of soda. Ready to pop.
Oh, and about Stan Lee. He passed at 95 years old. I’m not in mourning. That’s old enough. But, he’s been with me since I was eight or nine when I read Spiderman issue number 2 and Fantastic Four issue number 3. I was on a trip. A train trip with my family. We were going from Los Angeles to New York City.
I started traveling young. I never stopped. Stan Lee was right there with me.