When I say “old school” I am not talking about doing things the way it used to be done. I am talking about climbing the learning tree and how others influence our lives while we‘re on that climb.
I have made much, probably too much, about my hunger for independent thought. I still practice that art and admire others who do the same. None the less, we don’t take this journey alone, and we gather a lot from those who brush against us on our journey. I am talking about the quiet people, the little people who’s knowledge, graciousness and wisdom rub off on us, whether we pursue it or not.
As a photographer, I have always been an independent thinker who finds his own way through the myriad of subjects, styles and equipment. I prefer to influence others rather than have them influence me. Or so I like to think. When I see what some who were once my “shooting buddies” are doing now, I am thrilled, and I know for sure they have had an influence on how and where I have pointed my camera over the last few years. New subjects and new ways of looking at them. In some cases my former photography students influence me more than I ever influenced them. As a former teacher, that is simply the greatest high for me.
I love photography! I married it many years ago. It is a form of dispensing information while artfully developing a personal vision. Yet, photography is not the total sum of life.
Attitude is the ladder we use to elevate ourselves. I have been known to have my share of “attitude” but all too often not a very good one. I remember an old fisherman on the Mississippi River. He taught me more in 20 minutes on how your attitude will affect others……and then come right back at ya, than I otherwise learned in 20 years. Ya get what ya give. The lesson is forgotten (by me) quite often, but when I am on my game, I make sure to give a lot of gratitude to that old fisherman for that 20 minutes attending the old school.
First lesson in old school. An open mind is what will allow you the space to grow. Personally, socially, politically, spiritually. Second lesson. An open mind doesn’t mean you have to accept hatred and small mindedness from others. An open mind has to exist within the framework of a moral code, or better said a code of ethics. Without those things, your mind is open to the negatives, not the positives. Sometimes we learn by watching and listening, rather than by talking (and writing). I have learned a lot from others along the way.
I am fiercely independent and it can hurt me (pride?) to realize that I have not come to every conclusion in life, all by myself. We are a composite of everything and everybody who has crossed our path. Much like a physical school made of brick and mortar, with old school we have to weed out what’s of value, and what’s harmful. Never forget that fifth grade teacher from whom you learned so much. That old man down the block whose words of wisdom proved to be so true. The coworker that showed so much patience in teaching you your new job. They may have been old school but remembering them is the only way we can be sure we will pass along what we have learned from others, to others.
The next person who enters your life may seem small and insignificant, but pay attention. They may have something to teach you. It might be as simple as how to achieve balance and poise in a precarious world.
All success and happiness begins and ends with freedom. Throughout history millions have died just to achieve that one thing. It’s hard to imagine a people who would give freedom away willingly, yet it happens every day with nations as well as individuals. Once it’s gone it’s often too late for that single person, or for that nation of people to regain it. Sometimes you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
God Bless, Wayne
Very well stated my friend.
Thank you Ron I appreciate it!