Sunday Letters
7 MAY 2000

Dear Friend,

. . . “Live in one place long enough and you stop seeing it. To see with fresh eyes, you need to go someplace new.” That’s one bit of wisdom. It explains why so many photographers like to travel.
. . . Another bit of wisdom says something different. It says that it takes a long time to see what’s really there; that there’s a lot you won’t see or understand in a place except after years of looking. It says the same thing about people; that there’s a lot you won’t see or understand in a person except after years. Of course, some people are never understood; hockey fans, for example.
. . . Me, I’m new to this part of the country. It all looks new to me. So I’m taking advantage of my fresh eyes and photographing every day. In a year or two this world will look very different -- just you wait and see.
. . .
Every Saturday, except summers, a community dinner is served here in Arden. That’s one reason the community is strong. The meal is prepared by volunteers. Last night, I joined six other newcomers to prepare a meal for 121 others. Photographs from the Newcomers’ Meal are elsewhere on this website; you’ll find a link at the end of the letter.
. . . The photo I want to talk about here is at the top of this page, the photo of multicolored bamboo. I took it shortly after dinner last night while prowling around a piece of property here in Arden. I had a good reason to be prowling -- my wife and I are in the process of buying the house that sits on that land. The land, of course, we cannot buy. All the land in Arden is owned communally. That’s another reason the community is strong.
. . . I don’t remember the bamboo being multi-colored. I don’t remember seeing colors. What I remember is a cool restfulness. That’s what I thought I was photographing. I often see conceptually rather than concretely. That’s one reason I take photographs. I often don’t see things concretely until I’ve photographed them. It helps me see the surface instead of the idea.
. . . Something like that, I’m sure, is going on with this house and this community as I get to know them. I walk around looking. I talk to people. Most of the time I experience the community and the people conceptually. I take photos to see it and them more concretely. As for seeing it with experienced eyes, that will only come with time.
. . . Thankfully I’m married to someone who sees things concretely. We both love the house we are in the process of buying, so there’s a good chance it really is lovely, even though we are looking at it with new eyes and not with old ones. We look forward to moving into it in early July. We look forward to one day seeing it with experienced, familiar, loving eyes. Maybe that will happen before it’s time to move again.
. . . This fear -- that we won’t have time to fully experience this place and our new neighbors -- suggests a bigger question. Are aspects of our society changing too quickly to be fully understood? If it takes time for our perception to adjust, if it takes years or even decades to truly see something, what can we see if the phenomenon only lasts a few years? For example, did anyone truly understand eight-track tape players before they disappeared?
. . . All this suggests that I need to take more time with the few things that matter so that I might more fully, and perhaps more quickly, understand and appreciate them. My trouble is that everything seems significant, even bamboo growing up on two sides of a house in which I hope to live.
. . . May you take time, and have the time, to more fully appreciate the few things and people that matter. May you also have the wisdom to tell what and who matters!
. . . Thanks for listening.

Go To Cinco De Mayo Dinner in Arden
I join six others to, like, cook a meal.

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Sunday, 30 April 2000

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All words and images copyright Danny Nelson Schweers 2000.