I’ve never swung an axe in my life.
(Before today, that is.)
I suspect it was connected to do the dream I had, as I woke up at 3 am.
I was driving up a steep hill in my old neighborhood, where I grew up in New Jersey, and just as I was about to make a left turn, towards my old street, Shadow Ridge Court, I noticed an impediment.
Right there, in the middle of the road, was the biggest fallen tree I’ve ever seen.
It was massive in circumference, as big as King Kong’s middle finger, and there was simply no way around it.
Luckily for me, my childhood home, (and the cul-de-sac on which it was located,) was accessed from Galloping Hill Circle, which was appropriately named, so I was able to turn right, and go the long way home instead. (Ending up at the same point, but avoiding the road-block.)
I woke up in the morning, (after having fallen back asleep,) certain of what the dream meant: I needed to help my wife circumvent an energy blockage impeding her happiness.
For once, I’ll keep the details to myself, but she had the same feeling when she arose as well, so I was sure the dream was prophetic.
I’ve been doing a lot of life re-evaluation in the last few weeks, as the world has begun to open, and I suspect you have too.
How could we not?
(And I wrote this just a few hours before the CDC said it was time to ditch our masks.)
Everything we knew about reality was interrupted for 14 months, and we were powerless to do anything but stay home, if we had the luxury.
I’ve found that in May of #2021, I’m a very different person than I was in March of #2020, as are my wife and children.
We’ve changed in profound ways, and it’s impacting our relationships and decision-making, in cool and powerful directions. (I’ve even begun dispensing random advice in Facebook posts, because I want to share some of the things I’ve been learning through this mind-altering-experience.)
Recognizing a blockage, and either removing it, or going around it, is a difficult life-skill, but I believe it can be learned, if we’re aware of our emotional reality, and what’s causing our underlying feelings.
I’ve loved watching sports my entire life.
It was the one way I could communicate with my father and brother, as we didn’t have much to talk about, beyond baseball, football, and basketball.
I cannot even begin to estimate how many hours I’ve watched games on television, and in the last ten years, I’ve spent a fair amount of money for all the channels on satellite TV, and then for special streaming services.
All that time.
All that money.
This year, just in the last few months, I’ve lost the taste for it.
The joy is gone.
Ironically, my favorite basketball team, the former-New-Jersey-and-current-Brooklyn Nets, are the new powerhouse in the NBA, as they have three of the top 15 players in the world.
The Nets are likely to win an NBA Championship in the next few years, (if not this July,) yet I’m jumping off the bandwagon, instead of on.
Well, the team radically re-invented itself, and invested heavily in some head-case-talent, while clearing its roster several times over, and treating the entire enterprise like a corporate re-brand.
Old-fashioned concepts such as loyalty, leadership, continuity, and respect for the fans, have all gone out the window, for specific reasons I don’t have time to enumerate.
But I’ve taken no pleasure from the Nets’ ascent, so after a bit of griping, I just stop watching.
Similarly, my favorite English soccer team, Arsenal, is run by an American Oligarch, who married Walmart money, and he’s basically run the club into the ground, slowly and steadily, since I became “addicted” to the team ten years ago.
So again, I exercised the only power I have, and turned off the TV.
Stress relieved, problem solved.
At the moment, I despise the system that is delivering sports to me, as it is filled with the type of greed and inequity that I wouldn’t stomach in my real life.
So why would I want to pay to feel shitty with my “entertainment?”
Last year, a week or two after the Covid-19 lockdown began in earnest here in the US, I wrote an advice column for you.
It had nothing directly to do with photography.
I suggested things would get hairy, and even entering into other peoples’ physical space, their 6 foot window of safety, would likely lead to drama, and perhaps violence.
We all know that prediction came true.
My article, or the points within it, was featured by Michael Abatemarco, in the Santa Fe New Mexican, because that type of direct, let’s-talk-about-what’s-happening rhetoric felt of the moment.
Today, I decided that America’s re-opening, and how we deal with it, was worthy of an Advice Column Part 2.
So here we are.
Next week, I’m going home to New Jersey, to my hometown, to visit with my family and high school friends.
It will be the first airline trip I’ve taken in nearly 15 months, and the first travel I’ve done since returning from Houston on the eve of the lockdown in March #2020.
I’m scared and nervous, but also excited and thrilled.
My wife and kids gave me permission to go anywhere, really, as a thanks for how I’ve been a support to them through this trying time, and I wanted to go home.
To see my people.
To eat my favorite pizza.
And visit the sea.
I’m going to write about it for you as a travel piece, and will share how it feels to get so far out of my comfort zone, all so that I can return to the place that made me.
As a new man.
Which brings us back to the beginning.
Why did I swing an axe today?
What was it all about?
Well, we had an aspen tree stump, and a dead aspen tree, clogging up our front garden.
They were eyesores, abutting our big red fence, and every time we sat outside, or came in from the driveway, they were a symbol of death and decay.
All around them, new aspen shoots were coming up, ready to take their place.
Life was trying to start anew, to begin fresh, but the deadwood, (a term they use in English soccer,) was blocking the growth.
And reminding us, visually, of what had come before.
Of what what we had lost.
So today, after having that dream about a fallen tree, and telling my wife I was willing to make some sacrifices to help unblock her Qi, I headed over to my in-laws, looking for a hatchet.
But there was no hatchet.
Only an axe.
Turns out, chopping down trees, and taking out stumps, is hard work.
(Harder than I expected, anyway.)
And it requires a lot of concentration, to ensure the axe doesn’t rebound back and cut off your toes.
I had to shoo the dog away, so she didn’t get hurt, and then use a saw to finish the job.
It was gratifying, and the yard looks much better. (My wife said so, and she knows what’s up.)
In the end, though, as I tried to remove one last little stump, I found the axe and the saw wouldn’t work.
I tried, and tried, but to no avail.
I used my Kung Fu grip, (shout out to Eddie Murphy,) and still, no dice.
Effort upon effort, but no success.
This one little root just wouldn’t let go.
Then I had a new idea.
What about the clippers?
I climbed down the sloping rock wall, grabbed a new tool, and the tree stump came up in no time.
It was instantaneous, really.
So yes, I’m leaning into metaphor today, and if you came looking for a photo book review, I apologize for the disappointment.
But the world is so different from how it used to be, and you’re different too.
We all are.
My best advice is to embrace the change, think carefully about your world, and what you want it to be.
And when you hit a roadblock, go around it, or move it out of the way, gracefully and efficiently.
If you need the clippers, instead of the axe, no worries.
Just grab the tool that’s right for the job.
Original article: This Week in Photography: The 2nd Annual Advice Column.