My friend M. is an artist- many of my friends are- and this is a fairy tale, not because it isn't true, but because it is.
Once upon a time, when I was a Young Reader, I read about salons and happenings and clubs of people throughout history who met to talk shop -- to change the shape of meaning of all kinds, These were my people, as they say now. But they were all in books, weren't they? to begin with, perhaps, but now I find all my conversations, all my thoughts and ideas are witnessed and comprised of folks who adore thinking and making manifest their ideas.
My pal M. the artist collects snapshots of people. They come from thrift shops and antique stalls, and they are selected, in part, for consonance with a theme; "A gaggle of women," say, or "people dancing." They are all sizes and dates. They are like a handful of human time, grabbed out of the great gyre of the anthropocene, and they have become un-tethered from their stories, from their kin, their families and friends.
They are a little sad and a little lonely, to my mind, and I think, perhaps, to my friend M.'s mind also. In fact, I think that 'collecting' these photographic orphans of time is actually a way to repair the losses. To find a way to treasure these moments anew. She has not seen their alone-ness as a deficit so much as a reason to care, an impetus to love these relatives and friends of who knows who -- they are her family and friends now, and they join many more.
In my initial one dimensional thoughts, I saw only what was missing, and not a place that invited something -- invited narrative and affection. I have a few photos like this myself. I collected old postcards, and when you flip and sift through them in antique shops, sometimes a stray snapshot of similar dimension is in the between. I have a few, a very few, portraits of women like this, and I have adopted them as my audience, my readers, and my viewers, in my studio. One, in particular, in a hat, with a very intentional gaze is the muse of elegance and strength. Another woman, on the running board of a car, she is my muse of adventure. For many years, I carried an image of Lucy Lawless as Xena, Warrior Princess and Martha Stewart in my wallet- because any question of what to do under any circumstance can be answered by their combined expertise.
These orphaned photos after all, belong to our family, they are us, really. We had a book, you know, on the shelf, all my years, called The Family of Man (which we all know means the family of all beings, because we are not so foolish as to let semiotics keep us from trying on a glass slipper).
This book's spine is all I remember of it- who knows now what was in it, and I won't check, but you can, if you must -- because that is all I needed of that books' message: we are family, the family, one family.
This is why, dear friends of time and space, near and far, today's suggestion for a project for you is to seek out the glass slipper; to find artists and thinkers to talk with. Or, to find some people to imagine you would like to meet, Or, at least to read the spines of books. Or, to love one another.