No matter how much fun folks appear to be having on social media, it is painfully apparent what is going on these days. People are lonely.
Even if those folks are in a seemingly loving relationship, sharing a beer with him or her will usually lead to them telling you that they have no outlet for their true feelings. They are in a secure relationship, rooted in children and marriage, but they are utterly lonely.
These days, relationships are more about marking off life’s checkboxes and social status achievements than the real exchange of feelings and seeking a deeper understanding of what it means to be a loving person. I’m not saying people are decidedly shallow these days (well maybe I am) but I do think people have far too many options and distractions to have meaningful relationships.
Perhaps 200 years ago a couple, with no glowing electrified devices around, actually had to talk to one another while they lay in bed. Back then only one adult had to work per household. There wasn’t an unspoken sense of competition built into the relationship. A young couple, having avoided polio and the Black Death and insane infant mortality rates, we’re not throttled by individual ambition. A disgruntled lover could not pick up a phone and dial her mother to complain about every little thing her man does. Her mother, who lives 100 miles away, can’t tell her grown daughter to “come home then.” … thus dissolving a young relationship before it can be strengthened by overcoming workable conflicts…
People want fairy tales. It’s way deep and too much to get into for this format. I may write a book about it. Who knows?
When I’m out shooting I’m also out thinking. Sometimes however, I’m dreaming. This is why I aim my lens at women primarily. My dream, at least a summer-dress wearing representation of it, is across the street from me. I shoot. No more dreaming but instead, action. Click. After the photo is taken and the moment has passed, I look around. If there is not another subject nearby I move to another area. Between areas the dreams come back unless I spot another beautiful subject. If I do I am at once sad and excited. I snap another photo, and at the same time I feel both hopeless and hopeful.
I suspect that I’m unfit for romance. Natural selection. Darwinism. Just call it science, basically. Despite this I dream every day of my comeuppance where I get the girl, the money and I utterly crush the spirits of my enemies. I dream of magic, basically.
I see many couples during my street photography shoots, especially during the summer. These couples range from younger hand-holding couples to old best-of-enemies couples. New love and tired love. I see them and I shoot couples that catch my eye artistically. I rarely post photos of couples on my social media, however. The reason is simple: I harbor envy towards them. There they are, together and not lonely. Here I am, pointing a camera at them and later cropping the guy out of the photo, always lonely.
In the eyes of the men whom I normally crop out of photos I see an annoyed look that I rarely see when men are walking by themselves. This annoyance is likely, I suspect, because men cannot have their normal wandering eye when strolling with their snuggle bunny, and this creates a subtle-yet-visibe angst. Even men with world-class women whom I’d have to ask for credit line increases on all my cards just to afford to date, there is that look in their eyes.
I know time can do this to a man. A woman is a man’s hot little mama for a while, and then she becomes an actual mama and has his babies. Now she is not his hot mama, at least in the household, as much as she is “mommy” and he is “daddy” to the kids. The man has everything he ever wanted, but now peers at other women when his wife is not paying attention, and momentarily contemplates throwing his treasures away to start something foolish and new.
The man misses his passion for the future. He used to seize the bull by the horns, but now he is a protector and a father and a husband. Everyone tells him he should be happy with what he has: his dime-piece wife, his children, his house and toys, and indeed he is thankful. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t feel blessed. His micro-struggle is that he no longer gets to hunt. His hunt has ended. The world now tells him, “You have your prize now enjoy your life.” This is pacification through achievement. This is the penalty of reaching your dreams, especially those pre-defined by your birth-family and society. This is the penalty of victory. When you had nothing you were free. You possess so much now but you are no longer free. This is the penalty of possession.
I’m not saying it’s a bad deal. I can trade lonely Friday nights which are normally followed by spirited rides on my Harley the next morning to anywhere I choose, for Friday nights hanging with my wife’s weird friends followed by Saturday morning soccer games with the kids? Sign me up. 🙂
In a sense I have all but given up the hunt for love and romance. I instead hunt for beauty through photography and I hunt for explanations about why life has to be this way for me. I also hunt for sex, I mean lets be real here, but I will admit that over the course of my life romance has been my main micro-struggle. I suppose until black magic happens and the universe suspends the laws of physics just so I can be happy, I will most definitely stay low and keep shooting…..as you should.