Saturday, August 25, 2007


I know we have had a lot of photos lately, but I guess we are just making up for all those times we did not have a nice, dependable, virus-free location to work from and post all the photos we wanted. We are really making use of this new internet connection...

Throughout our honeymoon and year of travel we have taken lots of photos. You have seen many of them here, or at least a nice, representative cross-sample. But one genera of photos that I have not really posted here has been of my macro focus work.

I call it work, like I'm a pro or something, but it really means that I saw something cool that was small, clicked on the macro function on my camera, stuck the lens up really close to the "cool something-or-other", and clicked the shutter.

I think the reason all of this work hit me a-new recently is that, in retrospect, that is what Jessica and I have done with our lives over this past year. And as I prepare to dive back into the photo archive and write stories that were forgotten over the past year, I need to be careful of my bias, skew, and view on everywhere we were and everyone we met.

For better or worse, through this blog, we have posted intermittent snap shots of the world around us in a macro-focus-kind-of-way. We treated every country unfairly because we could not express the true depth of anything we experienced.

Morocco got the shaft many times because we 1) only met a limited number of people, 2) had an even more limited grasp of the language, 3) shared very little of the lives of those who made the experience amazing, and 4) had some bad experiences that tainted our ability to view the country in an even-handed manner.

In India we were guests in a microcosm of disease, death, dying, and the natural reciprocal of that which is love, life, and the unexpected. How can we speak on any experience in India when 90% of what we saw existed in this little world? India is undergoing a major economic growth period, of which most people are not benefiting. But those who are benefiting, and those who have been doing well for generations know very little of this painful side of life. They live in sprawling cities, nice homes, eat good food, have lots of meat, talk on cell phones and drive BMW's.

Our experience reflects very little on this side of India, even though it is there. All we know is the other end of the spectrum; homelessness, rickshaw pullers, sewer cleaners, disease, unkempt wounds, untreated diseases, and death from preventable infections.

So when people ask us, "how was India?" We often times don't know how to respond. We really can't speak on the country as a whole, but only of our little world.

And Thailand, poor Thailand gets glossed over because, compared to where we had been (India and Morocco), it was nice, easy, clean, accepting, accessible, and "westernized". Is it really? According to a friend or two of mine who have lived there longer than we did, and did not come directly from a TB hospital in India, NO, it is not. It only seemed that way to us.

So just like this spider picture, our stories are only a glimpse of the world from a short focal length in a split-second in time. Looking at this photo you would have no way of knowing that just a few inches over, this identical scene was taking place with another spider and fly. You could not know that the day was beautiful, crystal clear sky, not a cloud in sight, with a light breeze and low humidity. You would never know that just 50 yards away, 12 men lay dieing from a preventable and treatable disease, and that 45 miles down the road lay a HUGE developing and thriving metropolis full of people driving everything from Mercedes and BMW's to Ox carts and rickshaws.

So with that recent knowledge and insight I feel as thought Jess and I need to be especially careful about who and how we talk about the past year. What we saw was so small. Significant, yes, to us at least. But not significant when it comes to having enough experience to be able to talk about a whole country, region, or even city.

I think what we will try and do is simply share some stories. We want to give you just a silhouette of more things that happened, people we met, and places we experienced.

Perhaps we can make you a "fly on the wall", or in this case a "gecko on the bed" for some important events during our past year.

And, perhaps, through all of this, Jess and I can make better sense of the things we have seen, you can gain a better understanding of what happened, and we can do it all without dishonoring the reality or the memory of the people and places that we were.

We hope you stick around to see what happens.



Indian Lake Papa said...

Jake, your pictures tell a lot about life. Today we took the grandkids to "Jungle Joe's" to play on the blown up bouncing "toys" and slides. I can still see some of the faces of children, parents and grandparents. One older gentleman wore a tee-shirt with "Nevada" on it. One young mom had a tee-shirt with "Where do you live ?" on the back. So many people, so many lives - I missed so much today Jake. I will try to do better tomorrow. Maybe even the rest of today. Thanks for the reminder about life around us.

Indian Lake Papa

Robin said...

Hi Jake,

I'm sticking around :) You guys are stuck with me. I love your ways of viewing life and the world. Thanks for sharing what you are learning!

Tone Hjelm said...

Dear Jake and Jessica.
Beautiful pictures:)And you both communicate very good through the pen. Hope you're fine. Think of you now and then, and my little stay at Sewa Ashram.

Love Tone