life in mexican perspective.
another globetrekking symbolic enlightening reminder that life is fine without the extras..
so the school picture man came to our school here in Tulum, mexico today. to take all the kids’ photos and capture this moment in time for all the mamas, papas, abuelitos and abuelitas.
his setup consisted of a camera and a curtain for a backdrop. the photo shoot location was outside, near the palapa, on the concrete, under the Caribbean sun. he called the grades one by one and they marched down, hair gelled, smiles ready, and uniform tucked in. he sat them down and stood them up and posed them with their schoolbooks. and they all smiled.
I sat there watching this and, of course, started thinking a bit and associating and relating this global scenario as I am known to do. its never just a school photo.
what I thought was how, where I am from, the school photographer for picture day comes with an entourage. of assistants. and stuff. flashes and backdrops and umbrellas and tripods and stuffed animals and the whole nine. 5 different cameras and lenses that reach to china and cost $10, ooo.
and you know what. the photos all turn out the same. if the child is smiling, it is a beautiful photo. if they aren’t, the parents cringe. but its all about the child. not the fancy equipment.
I come from a culture that has a preoccupation with extravagant everything, coupled by a justification as to why it is all necessary. and usually overcompensating for unhappiness and discontentment by displaying an image of perfection and being scared of flaws. fearing dirt. fearing natural. and fearing real. and that’s fine. to live like that. but, I don’t. and neither do the places I travel to and choose to live. and this is one of the single most things I am thankful for. the fact that I am no longer a believer.
mexico is a simple place. where school photographers have a camera. where all kids have a smile.
and it doesn’t take a $10,000 camera to show that. it doesn’t take fancy laser backdrops or garden setting plastic roses or a $100 photo package with 50 options of sizes and fancy checks to write to make picture day perfect for the extended relatives that we never see.
all the photos look the same. they capture the kids in the current year in school.
lesson be told…
life doesn’t require trappings. trappings are material images. or sources that we think will makes things look better, feel better, taste better, work better and will therefore, in some twisted way, make us better . faster, smarter, better.
but without it all, life is fine. school pictures are beautiful. and the kids are smiling.
escaping this cycle is the difficult thing. thinking we need and want as well. but if we don’t have, are we ok? yes. or if not, that’s a whollle nother story. i mean issue. because in fact, without it all, we are way better.
my baby got a beautiful photo taken today. by a school photographer with a camera. and she was smiling. the power was in the people to connect. and the happiness within to shine through. no fancy camera can put a smile on someones face. no laser background means your kid is better. no country you live in means you are more awesome. stuff doesnt make life more awesome. we do.
I am proud to live in a place that does just fine with minimal stuff. it keeps me grounded and in check. and makes me realize how much money and time and thought is spent in other places, on equipment to makes things just perfect, and the best, but all means nothing. unless you care. unless you are impressed by the façade. because meanwhile, those places that pride themselves on bigger, faster, smarter, better, best. are far from best. because they do not tend to the real things that make life perfect. like inner happiness and humility. contentment and patience instead of greed and excess and judgment and ego and disenchantment and perfection. the real things in society. and in self. a fancy camera doesn’t create better smiles. a smile comes from within. and the lighting doesn’t change that.
a school photo tells a thousand words. river’s photo this year will tell of the year and a half when we were lucky enough to live in mexico. and to experience having less but having more, and experience a complete redesign and reprogramming. an expectation shift, from the inside of our hearts out to our sparkling eyes and replenished compassionate souls, which we will keep with us always, keeping perspective true, values solid, and gratitude flowing from our pores that we now see life through this lens of Mexican lessons.
we don’t want the photographer with all the stuff. that scares us. we want the guy with the camera and a smile. who does it all himself and doesn’t have assistants. we want the curtain backdrop propped on a rod attached to a palapa. we want the natural light of the beautiful sun outside, feeling its warmth and giving us life. instead of the manufactured ‘natural’ light that requires 5 umbrellas and 3 flood lights inside an air conditioned school. we want to smile at the green plants growing in the planters that we painted together, and the school dog running free, instead of the stupid stuffed monkey and annoying assistant assigned to the task of making unhappy children smile and making nonparticipatory attitudes come full circle. we want the dirty concrete ground beneath us and not the shiny hardwood of the stage floor, or the glistening mopped cafeteria linoleum. and we don’t want the fake smile. and outer layer of unrealistic and inaccurate perfection.
we want real.
again I end a post by saying, Thank you, Mexico.