I try my best to understand religion; I majored in Reformation history in college. I spent more time than most reading about the struggles of understanding faith. Even today, I struggle to understand. God gets us through times of question where were not sure of our next step. God also helps us see what is so beautiful in life. For thousands of years, humans have tried to connect to God, but it’s not always so easy. Let's try to understand God for a minute via the visionary, Steve Jobs. For many, Steve Jobs was like a modern day, earth-bound deity, one that an average person could only try in vain to wrap his head around. He would play this role beautifully and in a way that most consumer based humans could understand. He could create. He would create logical, necessary tools wrapped in simple packages often accented with just a touch of color. Like his machines, his appearance was simple, but inside his intricacies’ were far greater. He was a mystery, giving us only enough information that we could understand. He would walk onto a stage giving away only a few secrets at a time because he seemed to understand that there was a time and place for everything. He somehow made us feel like we were discovering treasure when he would introduce us to anything he created. This way, we could feel our own potential. He could see vast human potential. He accented the good and made it easy to delete the bad. The good would be delivered to us via music, pictures and media. This good would be brought to life everyday pixel by pixel via monitors both massive and small. We could delete the bad with one drag of a mouse. If only evil and sin could be so simple to delete. Perhaps the fact that he made life more simple and contained was his true genius. As we carry around so much baggage these days, we need so desperately to have a device to make life simpler. He kept on giving us simple perfection in a cool white package. People like me would find that despite the chaos in our head and in our lives we could find order through his gifts. Like paying 50 cents to light the church candle and pray for our hopes and dreams, we would pay a large sum to have his goodness bestowed upon us. His love, a gift to us would help us key in so keenly to the people and things we love in our own lives. Because of him, the sounds, the memories and the connections to the people we love would never be out of reach. But what God gives, he takes away. Heaven probably needed a new operating system installed and they now have just the right man up there to do it. Jobs was a reminder to us of human potential at it’s best. Life is a gift that humbly needs to be explored and shared with others. Thankfully, he helped make this possible.
For 4 years I diligently studied history at Fordham University. By graduation I could tell you anything about the reformation period. I would dive in and dispute and indulge in the many lectures about the times. It was an unusual passion, but I felt like I lived in the period after so much research. Skip forward (dare I say) 17 years and what is frighteningly apparent is that all I can remember about the Reformation is what I just read on Wikepedia. Sigh…. Since I seem to have no long-term memory or short-term memory for that matter, then why is history still important to me? The realization hit me square in the forehead as I walked into a cobwebbed filled barn today. The history of this place could not be hidden although it was only a shell of its former self. But it’s importance literally waved me inside. Just minutes before, I had driven down the road to knock on the door of the farm’s elderly owner. He wondered why I would want to photograph his old place? To me it was a masterpiece, while to the old farmer, it represented family, hard work and a lifetime of memories. Unsurprised, I could understand it’s name of Sunshine Farm. As I would wander through it’s worn entrance, sunshine would creep through the aged slats allowing diffused light to filter throughout. The welcome light would highlight some of the tools that were so vital to the building and the job it once had. The only regular residents now were some barn cats and some nested birds that hid high in the rafters. These critters would descend from generations before and would not understand why this place no longer held it’s value in modern times. Yet they still dwelled here enjoying its importance in their own lives. As I lugged the tripod throughout, I knew that I was somehow capturing its history despite it’s modern demise. Like Scooby Doo and the Dream Machine, I would find little clues to the way things once were. Milk bottles, tattered overalls, pitchforks, milk canisters, crates and barrels were scattered throughout. I wondered if this is where the idea “Crate and Barrel would come about? We feel connected to the past by interpreting old places like this. This building is proof alone to the people it affected, how they ate and got their sustenance. They knew where their food came from and where the buck stopped. When the milk truck would come by, your needs would be answered. How sad it is that so rarely do we even know of where our food comes from today. Will I photograph Stop and Shop? I think not. History is important even if it’s filled with cobwebs. It tells us of our past so we can rethink our future. I am happy to have captured just a little piece of it today.
Yesterday I walked into my bedroom in the late afternoon to find my husband laying on the bed. After working all day, he was relaxed, both hands stretched out over his head while he just sat listening. Unusual for him I asked if he felt ok? Looking back at me he said he couldn't be better. He quietly turned to me and said, " listen". In the background, Kate had the radio on listening to music in her room as she happily enjoyed time with one of her good friends. Peter would be playing some video game interspersed with little journeys to visit me to check in as he usually does. What I was hearing was the everyday banter that I have come to expect much like the hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen. Out of tune with chris's thoughts, I suggested that maybe I should shut the door so it can be more quiet. He shook his head as his look suggested that he liked the noise. Suggesting I too lay down and listen, I followed his cue. I too could hear the banter coming from all around the house. It was nothing unusual. The dog kept dropping his ball nearby, Kate was grasping on to her childhood creating paper designs in her room and Peter was nearby as always. He lamented that we should enjoy this because someday this home will be quiet as the kids grow up and find their own way. Someday this will be gone. Someday the irregularity of a noiseless home will be a distant memory. A lump in my throat formed almost immediately as I realized he was right. Later in the day I would run into a woman I see often at the gym. While we waited in line at Lino's, she talked of her five kids. With only one left at home she pines for the days of her noisy full home knowing well, the pang of pain that happens when your children grow up. It happens so quickly that if feels like a cruel trick being played on unwitting parents. So as we lament about laundry piled on by our kids or the constant stream of dirt in the doorway, relearning 5th grade math or having to create a dinner miracle every night, remember to enjoy every minute of it. These are the days (said well in song I recall) to remember.
Scanning Facebook , I learned yesterday that I am a free range mom. My friend gave me the title which I am glad to accept. As the story goes, a lady in New York decided to give her child permission to take a subway without adult supervision at the age of 10. As a New Yorker, she taught him the ways and means to safely get from point A to B in the complicated system. He was given extra money and a phone if needed. It became a hot button topic as she was labeled by many in the country as New Yorks's worst mom. NBC ate up the publicity knowing that the topic would not soon be done being discussed. The fact that her son made it home alive wasn't enough for most rather they wondered what if he hadn't made it home OK? One hundred miles north, I would become a mom also under the microscope. I have run with my son to and from school on occasion for two years now. It is a wonderful time for both of us. We enjoy the crisp mornings, finding treasures along the way and sharing time that really belongs only to us. When we do this, he enters the doors of the school energized and ready to learn. There have always been people that cheer on his efforts, but never so much that I ever see any one else giving it a try on a regular basis. With every journey we have taken together, we have learned something about dealing with the nuances of the roads. After two years of embarking on these regular runs and rides together, we would road test him so he could graduate to doing this journey by himself. He couldn't wait to have permission to take the leap himself. As September neared, he would practice the trip to school countless times with me. He would have to show me his knowledge of turn signals, defensive cycling and generally safety. Following that, he would be tested by his dad as he would give the final go ahead. The day finally came when he would ride away from the house independently. He would be lit like a Christmas tree and have a bright yellow backpack to make him more visible. While I fully understand the dangers that lay ahead of him, we had done our best to prepare him. I waved goodbye, despite the lump in my throat. Out of this experience, he would gain confidence and the ability to conduct himself in public. It would make the difficult transition to middle school successful because he was finding himself on his own terms. His bike would be the only one in the bike rack. I have received some phone calls of concern and yes, I do have concern. What good mother wouldn't? Inherent dangers will always lurk around the corner and on strait stretches too; it's how we deal with them that makes the difference. I tell people that what Peter does isn't groundbreaking, it's been done forever. Kids have been walking to and from school for eons. Most parents don't experience these nerves until their child gets behind the wheel of a car. For me, the nail biting begins earlier. However, by the time Peter drives, he will truly understand and respect the road in a way most 17 year olds won't. My worry will always be there for him but if he is to grow up unafraid of the world, than this is the path that will get him there. He's a free range kid in a world where people are so cooped up. Maybe that's why he usually wears contentment so well. For his sake take it slow on the roads, it could be your kid out there.