For some reason, it’s not socially acceptable in this country to stare at strangers. I mean really stare. Like watch the way their hair moves, the way their shirt clings to their shoulders, and really stare into their eyes. But when I was a photographer, and I shouldn’t say was, because I still do photography – anyway, when I did photo shoots, I had to stare, so I did. I stared at the person’s hair, their complexion, and into their eyes, even if it was from behind my lens.
At the beginning of the session I might think the person was okay looking, decent looking, good-looking, but whatever. But after an hour and a half or longer, of taking in this stranger, seeing them wince, smile, and looking repeatedly into their eyes, I could not help but feel a certain affection towards them, and see a certain innate beauty. Of course I had been trying to find beauty because I wanted the best possible pictures, so I did have an agenda. But it was more than that. Every time I finished a session I felt a palpable beauty coming from that person.
I bring this up because I think that’s how it is with writing for me. It’s staring and staring into the past until I see something beautiful. Something. Anything. And if it’s not beautiful on it’s own, in fact, even if it’s downright ugly, the staring at it, the facing of it, can be it’s own beauty.
Maybe that’s what that scene with the white plastic bag in the film American Beauty is all about. A scene that in my younger years I thought was plain stupid, but now perhaps I get it. Staring, taking something in, completely focused.
Of course since I’m me, and much of what happened in my life was highly absurd, I also point that absurd shit out, since sometimes beauty is found in the depths of laughter.