Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's My Life

It Seems that the Daily Journey has gone global.  I've have friends in ten different countries.   Here in the states I've got fans in 28 different states and from 91 cities.   This is truly remarkable given that we've done no advertising and requested no offerings (like TV evangelism does).   My message is simple:  live each day, sing loudly and off key, enjoy each morsel of your life.

My dad reminds me, "no one leaves this world alive."  So put on your headsets and listen to Bon Jovi live.  Repeat to yourself and sing "It's my life!!!"

By the way, Harry, I am still waiting for Bon Jovi tickets.

Got a plane to catch and a life to live.  Will try to post next week but I can't make any guarantees.  In the mean time, keep coming back, and view the reruns of my old blogs.  Both my eyes and heart are wide open right now.

Here's my shout out to La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Somewhere South

Heard ‘bout  how good I am,
Some say so much to offer.
Nothing great and nothing good,
Nothing in my coffers,
Must have misunderstood.

Headed South,
 To a different clime.
 Lucky me, Somewhere else
 Nothing but time.

Heard it all:
You’re good and you’re bright.
Got nothing great and nothing good,
Just feelin' misunderstood.

Bells, colors, and altitude,
Places that modify attitude.
Somewhere South, Somewhere bright,
Need a change of light.

Al Hernandez

Al's Favorite Songs About Mexico:
(Click on any one of the following:)
Stays in Mexico
Cancion Del Mariachi
Seven Spanish Angels

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pointless Information or Entertainment?

The other day I was talking with one of my retired pilot friends at Starbucks.  "Jon", I said.  "I've been thinking of installing an altimeter for my Volkswagen CC."  He looked at me with a quizzical smile on his face.   He knew I was pulling his leg but he probed a little deeper.  "Why would you do that, Al?"

You see he knows that when I am driving my CC the chances are slim to none that I will drive right into a mountain range.  There's really no need for me to have this information other than to entertain myself while I drive.  There's nothing that I can do with that information.  Having that instrument would provide me with entertainment but that's about it.

Well like Jon, you might be wondering where I am going with this.  Think about this for a moment.  Of all the news information we receive on a daily basis what can we really do with it?  What value does it serve? Is it information (something you can do something about) or entertainment (passive activity)?  For instance I keep hearing about the debt crisis in Greece.  Now, I know that there's only so many dolmas and gyros that I can eat.  Although,  I am a hungry guy, my logic tells me I can't impact the Greek deficit that much.  So I am amused by how much information I receive about something I can't do anything about.  I mean really I can't start a Greek Relief Drive for this.  There will be no Greek Live Aid on TV.    Sorry no late night telethon on NPR.  No free Zobra DVD's for your contribution of $100 or more.  Oopah!!!

Useless information plagues us every day.  We fret over it twenty four hours a day on TV and cable networks.  Why do we pay attention to it, we can't change it.  It's at best poor entertainment.  When I think of entertaining myself, however, I sure think I can do better than the financial  PIIGS ( the acronym assigned by the financial wizards from Euro/Arian Nations to debt ridden Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain.)  My camera seems way more appealing for both entertainment and facts.

There have been so many changes in my life this past year alone.   It's time to reconnect with life and just enjoy it.  So I am headed to Mexico.  I don't need useless instruments to entertain me or misguide me.  I am tone deaf to those events which only entertain me.  You may not hear from me next week, but I will be fine.  It's just time for me to participate and absorb some life.  Time to renew my creativity and visit with a great friend and fan in San Miguel de Allende.  Time to listen to the bells, hear the school children play, and sip my coffee near the Parroquia.  Got some living to do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chicken Little Was An Optimist

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. 

Robert Frost

Some times I feel that I could be the Cymbalta poster child.  For whatever reason my mind wanders off in shadows dark and deep.  Every day living seems bleak but then just as quick irreverent humor creeps in and wakes me up.  During the moments, I feel as if even Chicken Little was an optimist.  The sky falling down sounds quite interesting.  Certainly a piece of it falling on my head would give me a financial claim against some insurance titan.  (With my luck some idiot will legislate tort reform on skies falling down in Texas.)

For those of you who don't know me.  The sky is not falling down and even if it is move the heck out of the way.  It truly doesn't matter one way or the other.  Your destiny is to live and enjoy whatever the day brings.  Observe what is going around you; you are part of the universe.  Stop watching from the sidelines and take part in it.  Reconnect with yourself and to it.

Woody Allen, a famous comedic fatalist, said it best in Annie Hall.  In the movie, he depicts himself living underneath an L train in NYC (thus the onset of his neurosis).  His mother notices how despondent he seems and inquires to why.  His reply "the universe is expanding."  For this reason Alvy Singer stops doing his homework.  The despondent Alvy says to his mother, "What's the point?"  His mother snaps back, "What is that your business?"  Even Alvy's shrink gets a piece of the action.  "It won't be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we've gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we're here!" 

Truthfully, what a waste of time to try to control events.  We are much better off attempting to control how we respond to them.  You still have to breathe, eat, and sleep.  None of it changes.  What makes paradise is simply that you don't live there yet.  A mansion is simply something that you don't have today.  There will always be something better, bigger, and newer.  Enjoy whats in front of you today.  Let go of what you can't control.  Don't let it consume you and simply live.  It's going to take a while before the universe expands but it wont be in your lifetime. La di dah, la di dah, la la......

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Enjoy The Game

There's lot of effort required in playing baseball.  Not only does it require the physical aspects of catching, throwing, hitting the ball, but it requires the strategy of playing and positioning.  Americans young and old love this game.  An emotional game of tops and bottoms and innings and outs.  We either play the game or are spectators.

For a moment or longer, if we go into extra innings, we vicariously play the game as spectators.  We never take our eyes off the ball.  We watch our heroes hit or strike out.  We cheer for our champions and urge them on.  (I wonder if we do the same for our friends.)

Sometimes we get bored, the games are long.  We look around and begin to take in all the other entertainment at the ball game.  Fans and mascots and hotdogs and beer.  Pretty women and plenty of little boys all admiring the heroes.

I love the game.  For a few moments, I am distracted from the oil spills and market crashes.  For whatever reason nothing matters, I just sit back and enjoy the game.  For once nothing is expected of me, I react only to the thrills on the field.  The perfect plays and the occasional but long awaited home runs.  I love the game, it's time for me to watch and just enjoy it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Heart Wide Open

Drive-In With Uncertain Future
Route 66
Sapulpa, OK

I had an opportunity to get away this weekend.  A longtime friend of mine called me earlier this past week to let me know he had lost his dad.  Given the time of  the night he called, I knew he needed me.  Saturday morning, I packed underwear, a tooth brush, and my camera and headed to my destination, four hours away, Tulsa.

We took the opportunity to renew our friendship over a few beers and a minor league baseball game.  I reminded him of the line from "The Bucket List", "he died with his eyes closed and his heart wide open."  Herb was a very kind and generous man.  He was a great father and later on in his life also friend to his adult children.  His heart was definitely wide open until his last breath.

Four children visited him, in order of their chronological age.  He took his last breath with his youngest daughter by his side.

 Over the years, Herb,  I've heard many stories about you.  Your memory will be carried on by your four children.  Your legacy will move forward longer than the years you dwelled on this earth.  If you are with God, as your son believes, every now and then say a good word for me to your friends up there.  Oh and by the way, if you don't mind, look out for me in Texas too, thanks.   Don't worry Herb, I will be checking on your son.  Thanks for leaving us with your great legacy:  four fantastic adults who remind us of you. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ouch, I am back

Day Lilies in Bloom
 iPhone Photography

For months, I've been dealing with tingling in my hands.  Finally, I decided to take some action.  This past Tuesday,  I had surgery on my left ulnar nerve (decompression) and on my left hand (carpal tunnel).  It will be several weeks before I really know if the surgery was worthwhile.

In the mean time, I've been incapacitated; now I am nursing my wounds.  Yesterday, I finally got out of the house and went for a walk.   I went out again this morning for a longer walk and brought my iPhone with me.  The day lillies outside my home were perfect to shoot.

After what seems like an endless time in bed, I am ready to shoot with anything that I can lift.  There is so much to still tell.  So many people to meet and so many new stories to share.  I can't type much right now, but I can't wait to share again.  For now, I am getting all my ducks in a row.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Thousand Words

Mrs. Fortuna was perhaps one of the best high school English teachers.  She new exactly how to motivate someone like me.  She never set limits on creativity but rather encouraged spontaneity of thought.  Most English teachers were stiff and structured, she was 100% free form.

While she was great, no one dreaded the proverbial essay assignment more than me.  "In one thousand words or less...please write about...."  Hands would go up immediately.  "Is that single or double spaced?" Why the hell would that matter?  It didn't detract from the required number of words.

Still, I don't like limits on words and to this day, I prefer short essays to lengthy tomes, short stories instead of lengthy novels.  With photography by my side however, I can cheat the writing process; the ratio of one picture to a thousand words works fine for me.   There's no need for me to count the words.  The viewer provides his own and his imagination deciphers the story, one word at a time.

Well I've run over my allotted words.  I will let the pictures tell the story.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pure Imagination

"Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you'll see
Into your imagination"

For the past few days, I've had a song stuck in my head:  Pure Imagination.  A simple tune from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.  I visualize Gene Wilder singing it.  By reminding us to be childlike in a world of imagination, he guides us into a world of what could be.

As photographers, imagination is equally as important as the composition itself.  The image is only the beginning what we choose to do with it has only the limits of our imagination.  It has no borders only those that your mind provides.  We should feel free in our interpretation of perceived reality.  The worst that could happen is that our lives would become more interesting and less homogenous.

Artists choose their medium to express their perceptions. I think not only about how I will interpret each image, but also on how I will showcase the image.  I pay attention down to the detail of the paper I select to render my vision.  It's not unique to me.  In fact I believe the cavemen did the same as they selected which rocks were best for their petroglyphs.  It's all an important part of our creative process.  Welcome to the world of Pure Imagination.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One Song

The other day as I was taking my iPhone for a walk, a curious thought entered my head while I listened to my music assortment.  "What if I only have one song?"  Although I don't believe that I have only one "song", I recognize that many musicians have only only song that makes it to the top of the charts.  What if I go through my entire life and only have one song?

It wouldn't surprise me as a photographer that I might have only one real winner even in the age of digital photography.  Should that prevent me from exploring and from finding that one image?  Will I recognize it when I see it?

The odds are that I have more than one image that's worthy, but regardless even if had only one, I should continue my quest for the perfect one.   The one that satisfies me.   To me, finding it is equally as important as taking the shot.

There's something inside of me that drives me to shoot.  Something that values even only one song.  It's about expressing my inner voice and connecting with those that view my images.  I don't know if my one image will be a landscape or if it will be a portrait.  All I know is that I have at least one image to shoot before its all over.  To that extent I am driven each day to discover that one notable image.  With some luck and lots of patience, I will find it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner.  As the year's go by it becomes more difficult to find exactly the perfect gift for my mom.  At this point in her life, its quite pointless to buy her something; she has all she needs.   I am pretty much resigned to send her flowers which I know she would rather see and enjoy while she is still alive.

When I think about what I can do for her, what really comes to mind is to pay her homage while she yet is still alive.  My mother till this day is known for two things:  her fantastic cooking and her limitless capacity to generate friends.  (Between us, I think the two go hand in hand.)

My mother never really shared her recipes.   Everything was measured by her crooked finger.   In fact, I think she deliberately skips details as she tells you what is in her food.  She truthfully wanted you to come back for more of her food.

While I can't recite her cooking recipes;  I can, however, tell you her recipe for a good life.

Have a family, preferably, two daughters and son.  Stay married for sixty-seven years,  Sprinkle that marriage with hardships and season it with many family get togethers and festivities.  Stir in friendship to taste slowly and over time and add liberal amounts of aunts and uncles.  Put everything in a wonderful pot called a home.  Now let it all simmer over a lifetime.  Season it again with grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Add prayer every day, for your children, your husband, and for all those that you love.  Don't forget to feed your family and your friends as much as your heart and health permit.

She's up in years now.   She just turned 89.  Last year was a rough year for her.  She fractured her pelvis and during her recovery fractured her hip.  They replaced her hip.  While I thought that she would never walk again she continues to walk.  Yes she's feeble and sleeps more but she refuses to give up her kitchen.  I suppose that's a good thing.  You see I would like to eat one more meal prepared by those loving hands.

Happy Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hello Dolly

Just north of Denton, Tx. lies an all but abandoned town by the name of Pilot Point.  Time and highways have passed it by.  All that remains is a fairly run down but charming town square.  There are a few antique shops, a restaurant, and an art gallery in what use be a bank.

I met shopkeeper Dolly at her antique storefront while on a Saturday adventure.   She had lots of class and poise.  The Minnesota transplant and former Continental flight attendant had plenty of charm.  In order to be near her store, she bought and restored an old victorian home in Pilot Point and moved from Dallas.  She collected all kinds of ceramic pieces from glamor days gone by, a time that was both simple and elegant.

She showcased their glamor at her store.  There was Hedda Hopper, Doris Day, and a flapper all in the same musty building.  The lighting was excellent.  I began to shoot.   Yet Dolly's photo interested me more.

Sometimes the real treasures are not the items themselves but rather the people who collect them for us.  Dolly's passion was actually of more interest to me than the actual pieces.  Dolly's dream did not end with her transatlantic flights and retirement.  It was actually the beginning of her new journey:  following her collectibles passion.

Like a well written novel, life brings us beginning and endings.  As one chapter ends, another begins.  We write the manuscript each day.  What we fill it with is up to us.  It's our choice.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Empty Handed

There's a place creative people frequently find.  It's a place where nothing seems to flow; a spiritual dry well.  We know the well is far from empty, but we cannot draw from it.  Without a doubt its a source of anguish and frustration.

We find that the best thing is to remove ourselves from the situation.  We pause, reflect, and regroup.  Sometimes, we just need a change of venue.  We look for a spark to rekindle and affirm the creative process again.  It happens to all of us.

We never fully comprehend what causes this.  Over time, however, we learn to pay attention and to pullback.  We discover new ways to express our creativity.  We find new subjects that draw our attention, new locations and themes.  We jar ourselves back into the creative process by changing ourselves and our perspectives.  We choose new brushes and palettes.

Perhaps we simply need the space and time required to introspectly listen to the solitude and absorb everything thats around us.  The creativity ebbs back like a high tide.  We wait patiently on the shore and explore our thoughts in the wakes of silence.  We reconnect once again with ourselves and our creative strengths.  It's as if we renew our marital vows.   Renew your creative vows.  Listen to the silence.