I get all kinds of excited when I discover initials carved into a willow tree, picnic table or sidewalk fence. It’s romantic, yes, but it’s also a reminder that two people wanted the entire world to know that E+M= ♥.
My camera swings around my neck when I’m hiking mountains, exploring neighborhoods, or simply trying a new restaurant. When I spot initials, I have a ‘this is why I lug my camera around’ moment and snap snap snap away at the design.
I’m smitten with simple gestures to public display affection, but, for all that sentiment, I’ve never left my own mark. Perhaps more tellingly, it’s never even crossed my mind that I would spend time etching and scratching JP2=♥ .
But why not? I suppose the politically correct response is that I don’t want to deface public property or damage natural resources. The more honest answer, however, is that I’m too busy taking pictures.
Which makes me wonder: is carving initials into trees and sidewalks and benches a thing of the past? Has our public declaration of love moved onto Instagram and Facebook, or are there still sweethearts securing sharpies to tell the world they feel?
Have you ever carved your name somewhere?
I embody multiple daydreamer cliches – the student gazing out the window, the girl staring at the clouds, the classmate doodling in the margins, and the hiker gazing over the tree tops. The daydreaming comes with a bit of absent-mindedness here and there, but I’m owning it with pride. Thing is, daydreamers have also have a propensity for creativity, empathy and — this one is all my own — taking pictures.
The New Yorker expounds on the Virtues of Daydreaming for creatives, and the current issue of Psychology Today examines the direct relationship between daydreaming and empathy. And the connection between photography and daydreaming? Well, that’s all my own – feel free to credit yours truly.
During graduate school, I used to leave the library and study alongside the shores of Lake Michigan. I would read and write until I lost focus and started daydreaming about this that and the other. The daydream almost always ended with a tourist tapping my back and asking me to take their picture.
Before long, I found myself intentionally breaking to ask people if they wanted their photograph taken. Have you ever asked a couple if they wanted a picture? Or a family? It’s a surefire way to make someone smile, and the question is almost always answered with an eager “yes yes – thank you!”
I didn’t take many photographs of myself back then– I’m not sure why, but I had this feeling that my moment was coming soon — it wasn’t here yet, but it would arrive before long. Does that make sense?
We hiked a number of waterfalls this weekend, and each time we reached the peak I looked around for someone to take our picture. I asked hikers and bystanders and doodlers if they would break for a moment and snap a photograph. And you know what? It made me smile each time I did- it felt like whatever I’d been waiting for had finally arrived.