Hello! Thank you for reading week 17 of The 365 More People Pictures project.
If this is your first visit, 483 days ago, I challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every single day, for an entire year. I successfully completed the first challenge, The 365 Day People Picture Project.
When the first project was over and it came to day 366, I just couldn't stop! I was compelled to keep going, so here we are - in year two, The 365 More People Pictures project.
I'm not a photographer. I got my very first DSLR, and having only taken just a few pictures with my new camera, I then dove head-first into this project in attempt to teach myself photography and hopefully provide content for this blog. The 365 Day Project quickly became the whole blog, but I do have intentions to diversify some day.
I don't stockpile photos. Each picture is taken fresh daily. If you'd like to follow along daily, my Instagram is @missellanea.
I don't know what the future holds for this project. The other day, I considered that perhaps I should go for 1000 straight days. That's a streak I could feel proud of. My photography hasn't improved as much as I would like and I know in order to improve, I need to take classes and surround myself with people from whom I can learn. This project has been excellent though, in that it has taught me how much I don't know! Does that make sense?
There have been days when I've felt completely embarrassed and ridiculous and like I should just give up immediately, but I just can't stop. It's become a compulsion. A huge chunk of joy would be ripped from my life if I were to stop this project. Not only would I miss the photography part of the project, but mainly, I would miss people. This project has forced me out of my own little world. I'm actually a shy person, but the project gives me reason to reach out and connect with amazing people I would otherwise have never met.
For now, I'm just enjoying the experience of meeting great people, and hope you are too! Thank you for reading!
Day 112 - Rebecca and Travis
This is Rebecca and Travis. They were snuggled up, keeping warm at the bus stop.
I asked the couple the happiest thing happening in their lives right now. Rebecca is happy to be starting school, and Travis is happy that his roommates are moving.
"Doing chores for my roommates," Travis answered, when I asked if he's recently performed an act of kindness. Rebecca was having trouble thinking of an act of kindness which she's performed. When people have trouble thinking of a recent act of kindness, I can sometimes detect a hint of disappointment. I was picking up on that vibe from Rebecca, but I also gathered that she was a sweet and kind person...she was just having trouble remembering something something specific. I definitely don't want people to feel bad about themselves so I nudged her a little, reminding her that it was a big act of kindness for her to agree to let me take her picture, especially in the cold! Rebecca agreed, and also added that she made pancakes for Travis.
I asked Rebecca and Travis if they have a personal mission statement or life's purpose. Rebecca answered, "I want to be happy. That's my life's goal." Travis answered, "avoiding mediocracy."
When I asked the couple something about themselves which they would consider to be a success, Rebecca answered, "that I manage to stay happy even though people try to get me down." Stay true to yourself, Rebecca!
Travis answered, "I know what I want and it makes it easier to do stuff and not let bullshit get in the way." I'm inspired by people who know what they want and go after it! Good job, Travis.
Day 113 - Sarah
This is Sarah. We met at the bus stop.
The happiest thing happening in Sarah's life right now is that she's getting a new apartment! It's her first place!
Sarah's recent act of kindness is that she helped out her sister who had forgotten her keys. Sarah retrieved the keys and took them to her sister.
"To be happy and to try to make others happy," Sarah answered, when I asked if she has a personal mission statement.
"I have my dream job," Sara said, when I asked something about herself which she would consider to be a success.
Wishing you happiness in your new nest, Sarah!
Day 114 - Alex and Nathan
This is Alex (left) and Nathan (right.) They are two very special people who just appeared in my path after leaving work. I worked late on Tuesday and I was completely stressed because I still had a lot of work I needed to get done from home. As I was walking out the door, I had the realization that I also still needed to go out in search of a subject in the freezing cold. As I got just a few footsteps from my car, Alex and Nathan just happened to come walking down the sidewalk. I was still in work-mode in my head and my camera wasn't even ready, but I know by now that when someone appears in my path like this, I need to ask them for their picture and I know I'm going to be in for a treat.
When I asked the men if I could take their picture, they were so friendly and so cheery. I knew I had just met a couple of really nice people.
I asked Alex and Nathan the happiest thing happening in their lives right now. "Meeting new people," Alex answered. "Galloping around to "The Ballad of Mr. Steak,"" Nathan replied. "Am I going to have to google this?" I asked. We laughed and Nathan explained it was a song, and yes, I should google it. With a name like, "The Ballad of Mr. Steak," of course I googled it the minute I got settled at home. Are you curious? You can check out the video below. It is so goofy!
I asked Alex and Nathan if they've either recently performed an act of kindness or if they've been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. Alex was the recipient of an act of kindness. He explained that he recently received a letter in the mail from someone who basically outlined to Alex, everything for which they were thankful. Alex was surprised and touched. I don't know if it's because of the holidays, but I've noticed a lot of people are reaching out to one another with good old fashioned, hand-written letters. Remember those?
Alex's story reminded Nathan that he had performed an act of kindness. Nathan started receiving e-mails from an elderly man who was e-mailing him by mistake. As busy as life can be, it would have been very easy for Nathan to ignore the e-mails, either purposely or accidentally, but he wrote back to the man explaining he had the wrong e-mail address. The man was appreciative of Nathan taking the time to let him know.
When I asked the guys if they have a personal mission statement or life's purpose, Nathan immediately answered, "What can art do, who should it serve, and how can it affect the world it inhabits, above and beyond negotiating the rise and fall of its meager share in the luxury commodity market?" I asked Nathan about the source. Nathan explained that a professor wrote this question on the chalkboard years ago and it's stuck with him ever since. It's a powerful question. (I should have asked Nathan for clarification on how to punctuate this statement and if his Professor posed three separate questions, or one big whammy, the way I've presented it here.)
"Experience everything, forgive everyone," Alex supplied as his personal mission statement. Life is as simple and as complicated as that.
When I asked the men something about themselves which they would consider to be a success, Alex answered, "always moving forward." Nathan answered, "transforming our experiences of every day life to give it a different layer of meaning or significance." I told Nathan that his answer reminds me of the book, "The Leader Who Had No Title," by Robin Sharma. The example I gave was that of a gas station attendant. A person who pumps gas isn't just a person who pumps gas. Their job is significant in that they get people moving and going where they need to go. A friendly gas station attendant can help set the tone for the day. Nathan's answer, to me, is about finding value and placing importance on everything and everybody. It's about perspective, and how we can choose to see things differently.
After we were finished with the interview, I asked for one more picture, just to make sure I had a good one. You know how your nose starts to run in the cold? I think it was Alex who joked that he needed to make sure he didn't have any snot bubbles in the picture. I confessed that I was worried I had some too and then told the guys I don't know how to edit snot yet. They said it was ok to leave any snot and that it would capture our experience more authentically. Luckily, we all seemed to have our snot situations under control! It was in joking around that I had the increasingly-familiar realization that just a few moments prior, Alex and Nathan were just a couple of strangers walking down the street, but within moments, they became more like friends.
Alex and Nathan's sincere kindness and genuine encouragement of the project left me feeling renewed. I was thankful I had the good fortune of meeting such special people.
Thank you, guys!
Day 115 - Whisper
This is Whisper. She works at a convenience store I frequent on my way home. Her nickname suits her perfectly and now I'll always think of her as Whisper.
"I'm moving soon," Whisper answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now.
When I asked Whisper if she's recently performed an act of kindness, or if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, she was having trouble thinking of an answer. Just then, a customer came in so I went to the back to get a cup of coffee so that she could help her customer. After the customer left and I approached the counter again, I asked if she had thought of an answer. She hadn't. Again, not wanting her to feel bad, I assured her that every time I've ever been in, she's always been friendly and kind to me. I'm sure she's that way to all of her customers.
"I'm big on Karma, what comes around, goes around," Whisper answered, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose.
I asked Whisper something about herself which she would consider to be a success and she answered, "I grew up in foster care and beat the odds. Nobody expected me to graduate." I got a little teary-eyed when Whisper opened up about about her life. I was happy for her, and proud of her.
After we were finished, Whisper and I talked a little longer and we discovered it's quite possible that we have relatives who know each other's relatives.
Whisper, I'm wishing you a lifetime of odds-beating, success and happiness.
Day 116 - Big Ern McCracken
This is Big Ern McCracken. I actually know McCracken but it's been years since I've seen him. He was standing outside of Sam's and I didn't even recognize him when I first asked if I could take his picture.
"Watching my nephew grow up," McCracken answered, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
McCracken's recent act of kindness is that he held the door open for an elderly lady at the grocery store.
I asked McCracken if he had a personal mission statement or life's purpose and he answered, "to grow and experience life with as many friends and family as possible."
"I overcame drug and alcohol addiction in 2003," McCracken answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
It was great running into McCracken again. In a strange way, we learned more about each other in just a few minutes than we had known about each other back when our group of friends hung out!
Day 117 - Al
This is Al. We met at the bus stop. It's that same tricky spot where I always struggle with getting a good picture. I explained to Al that that particular spot was my unlucky spot. Al was understanding of the challenges and patient with me as I struggled with multiple camera settings.
"My job," Al answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
Al's recent act of kindness is that he gave his recyclables to a man in need, so that the man could have the money.
I asked Al if he had a life's purpose or personal mission statement. Al answered, "the permanent pursuit of knowledge." I loved Al's answer! I explained to Al that he would understand this someday when he gets older, but that right now I'm experiencing memory changes so I twisted his statement and joked that I'm in pursuit of permanent knowledge! Al laughed and agreed the statement works that way too!
"I lost a lot of weight," Al answered, when I asked something about himself which he would consider to be a success. I didn't ask how much weight Al had lost but after we said good-bye and as I was walking back to my car, I realized I would have never known that Al has been working hard and getting in shape. I had only just met Al, as he was, at that particular moment. I was struck that we never know a person's battles or triumphs which have brought them to a specific moment in time. We never know what a person has endured, or what a person has overcome, and we don't know what they're about to face either. People deserve our compassion.
Day 118 - Susan
This is Susan. We met at one of my favorite trails.
There were two men with Susan when I approached to ask if I could take her picture. She asked if I wanted just her picture alone, or a group picture. I explained to Susan (I was really explaining to the men) that I always end up with more men than women subjects, so I was hoping to just get her picture alone. The men's feelings weren't too terribly hurt. Actually, I think they were relieved because that gave them more time to talk about cars. (which was the conversation I had interrupted when I approached them.)
"I'm taking an improv class," Susan answered, when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now. This explained why Susan was so eager to give me a funny-face picture! In hindsight, I should have gone along so we could see what she's been learning in class!
Susan's recent act of kindness is that she took a friend to the doctor for a procedure.
When I asked Susan if she had a personal mission statement or life's purpose, she explained she has a value statement, which is the golden rule. Susan went on the explain that she's now retired so in her daily life, she's "focusing on trying to have music, physical activities in nature, and social activities." I wasn't sure if I had heard Susan correctly, so I asked for clarification if she stated "physical activities in nature, or physical activities and nature." Susan confirmed, "physical activities in nature," but went on to say that even when she's not in nature, that she brings nature to her. She has a bird feeder and even when she's just at home, she's able to observe nature. Susan my have brought nature to her home, but it sounds like Susan lives a full life! She likes to bike, hike and kayak! She had just finished 7 miles with her friends. (and let's not forget that when she's not biking, hiking or kayaking, she's taking improv classes!)
When I asked Susan something about herself which she would consider to be a success, she said that she had professional success when she worked. Susan is one of the people responsible for the Providence Health Plan.
The way Susan is living her retired life is an inspiration!
Do you remember Alisa, from day 203 of the first project? When we met the first time, she was training for the Boston Marathon. Alisa arrived at the trail just as I was about to take Susan's picture. Alisa spotted us and came over to say hello! I quickly explained to Susan that Alisa was also a subject in the project. I was glad to have finally run into her again because I've been wondering how she did in the Boston Marathon. Alisa did well, it was a great experience and quite an emotional experience because of the bombing the previous year. She plans to take this year off from marathons and I'm sure we'll "run" into each other on the trail this spring and summer!
Here is a summary of the personal mission statements and life's purposes from the subjects of week 17:
- I want to be happy. That's my life's goal.
- Avoiding mediocracy.
- To be happy and to try to make others happy.
- What can art do, who should it serve, and how can it affect the world it inhabits, above and beyond negotiating the rise and fall of its meager share in the luxury commodity market?
- Experience everything, forgive everyone,
- What comes around, goes around.
- To grow and experience life with as many friends and family as possible."
- The permanent pursuit of knowledge.
- Experience daily - music, physical activities in nature, and social activities.
Thank you to each and every subject in this project!
Have a great week!