Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fifty Portraits and a Revelation

Tonight, I shot 50 portraits of 50 kids. They and their moms are all residents of a local women's shelter, catering to abused and homeless women and their children.

There are a lot of emotions swirling around after this adventure. Maybe the most powerful is that of gratitude. Feeling deeply thankful for the amazingly charmed life most of us lead.

I'm also feeling such a sense of bliss because of what I suspect is the power of contribution. I have no doubt that contribution is the single most important key to happiness and contentment in life. In 10 or 20 years, you will have no recollection of what you did at work today. But the emotions resulting from contribution, I suspect, we remember.

I'm also feeling appreciation for friendship. I had two photographer friends, Kim and Mark, show up to help in whatever way they could. Their friendship made me keenly aware of all my friendships. I am so lucky to have accumulated so many wonderful friends in my life.

I am feeling a sense of hope. Because while I can't imagine what these families have been through, I got a real sense of dignity and resilience from them. All of them.

I think I'm also feeling immense pride. Mostly because of this photo.

When this guy came into the room, it was obvious he was different. I learned he's autistic. I can't say I know much about autism, but the boy was a little distant. He didn't make eye contact, and didn't really respond at first. His mother mentioned that he'd never had a photo taken where he was smiling. Well, I had to put an end to that little streak.

There was such radiance in the smiles of those children, even in the face of adversity, some of which we can't even imagine.

Their mothers often couldn't hide traces of their personal pain. But the kids? They were just kids. Getting on with life.

I have another emotion I'm not entirely sure I can articulate. In volunteering to help these people tonight, strangers, I feel overcome with a euphoria that's hard to describe. While I feel utter exhaustion physically (50 portraits!), I also feel like I could run a marathon or climb a mountain.

In volunteering to help, to give these families keepsakes that will create a sense of place and pride and love, I happened upon a completely unexpected emotion. A sense of something I kind of thought was made up.

There's a very good chance I'm feeling the holiday spirit. A profound feeling of connection and joy and abundance I'm honestly not sure I thought was possible. And the question that comes to mind is why, on earth, wouldn't we want to feel this every single day of our lives?

So, yes, if this is the holiday spirit, I have it.

Just don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to maintain.


amkovacs said...

I love it! That kids is beautiful and radiant. And I love that you're getting soft in your old age.

Anonymous said...

Scott, thank you for inviting Mark and I. I had a great time and you did a phenomenal job. I'm amazed; though not surprised, you were able to get a smile from this little boy. Awesome work my friend.

Anonymous said...

Scott, you are simply amazing!