Some reading this may know that I am planning to move to Cd. Oaxaca sometime in 2021 to live off my meager Social Security while writing. photographing, and learning the local indigenous languages. I won’t be the “rich” ex-pat, but I will be able to be comfortable. I am daily finding more things to make me want to be here. Last night I saw a classical performance of the 5th Brandenburg and John Rutter’s Suite Antigua by all local musicians. It was fabulous. Right now I am typing this in a maker space called Convivio that offers high speed internet, free coffee and mescal, and a comfortable workspace for a very reasonable fee. It may not be in my ex-pat budget, but it says a lot about the community to make it more inviting. I visited one of the many print shops that Oaxaca is famous for, and was blown away by the high quality of the work they produce. I’ve only been here two days…
Whenever I travel, I find myself drawn to things which are falling apart. People will look askance at me as I stand with my back to a beautiful building or view, shooting a closeup of peeling paint or crumbling adobe. At times, I have been accused of disrespecting a place by showing it in a bad light. That is surely never my intention. I simply love what nature does as it slowly converts our best efforts back to their basic elements. I am not alone in this. In the Tucson Barrio and other parts of the Desert Southwest, you will see adobe deliberately left exposed where stucco has fallen. Decay becomes a design element. Often, an attempt is made to clean up the edges, which inevitably makes it look contrived and not nearly as beautiful.
As we get older, nature works her destructive magic on us as well. I love photographing really old people as much as I do really old buildings. There is a book of stories behind every crumbling wall or sagging face, wanting to be told. One of the saddest things about our species is that we breeze past, never even contemplating what these stories might be.
I just finished a remarkable book: A Conspiracy Of Truths, by Alexandra Rowland. The protagonist is a Chant, someone who spends their life collecting and sharing stories. Every important turn of events in the book is illustrated by a story external but relevant to the one at hand.
It is difficult to get people to tell their stories, and for me it is difficult to listen to them without judgement as well.
Listening is an invaluable skill. One must forgo the desire to share one’s opinions or to respond in any way, giving oneself over completely to absorbing and understanding. I am really bad at this. I usually spend a good portion of my listening time formulating a response. It’s a very hard habit to break, especially at my ripe old age. The sad fact is, I will have less stories to tell because of it. Or maybe I will allow my walls to crumble with age, becoming more beautiful and full of stories as they do.
Both photos taken this morning in Cd. Oaxaca