You should see me walking around with my camera bag and laptop case, like the ghost of Jacob Marley, these and other items weighing me down as I struggle with an already occupied hand to find a key to the door. Like poor Jacob and the chains of his life, I'm being overtaken by inanimate objects, what you might call "stuff." The stuff, whatever it may be, is meant to fill in the voids of my life, distraction for the time I would spend contemplating life's unanswerable questions.
These items I use to create, to express myself, sometimes they become meaningless objects, or stuff, and I hate them. It seems like everything I own for work, I must recharge on a daily basis. That would be my camera battery, flash batteries, my cell phone, and my laptop. Right now I want to throw the laptop I'm writing this on, stomp on it, then run off into the woods to go and be wild, but I won't. Instead I'll finish this column, or whatever, and just go to bed so I can recharge my own batteries as well.
In the bedroom nightmares will persist of an army of papers taking over. That would be my notes, press releases to act on, receipts, bills, receipts, and receipts; I drown in the evidence of my life. These things are just as good kindling for the fire as the couch I'm sitting on, the clothes I'm wearing, all the unimportant objects that consume us, hindering our chances at real emotional intimacy, true fellowship. Somewhere a television talks to a family watching so they won't have to speak to one another.
Back to my waking life, the laptop and camera I use are just a means to an end, "transcendental goods." I wield their power to express my own thoughts, to retreat into my mind from the workaday drones. But creativity and imagination can be dangerous as well. I have a little notebook filled with ideas for columns, short stories, screenplays, photo projects, web projects and the like. Mostly a lot of things I'll never do. Creative thoughts can invade my life at any moment, more than I can attend to. Art may be like a drug for me, if I can't express myself creatively, if I don't have any recent photos to admire, I will go into complete withdrawal. Some people medicate themselves to feel better, taking pills. I just need to create a piece of work that even I alone can step back and feel that it contains a part of me. It may be something ugly, but these are the things I must confront to understand myself. Art is self discovery and your own personal life therapy session. This is when it's at its best, when ideas and feelings are involved, not just pretty things to look at that match your couch (kindling).
I must remember why I'm here and why I do my job. I must get excited about it or it will slowly kill me, the objects around my shoulders and neck becoming crippling chains. My camera and laptop can be just "stuff," a distraction, or they can be utilized to explore and contemplate ideas, a means of artistic catharsis so that I continue to remain civilized. Think of artistic inspiration like a spring thunderstorm, coming quick with a vengeance to revitalize the land, but you know it can't rain all the time.
Zach Porter is a staff photographer with the News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 478-5753 extension 248. Handwritten letters can be sent to 138 Church St. Jonesboro, Ga. 30237