WHILE THE PATTERNS COME
By MICHAEL PERKINS
(birthday boy blows out the candles, clears his throat, raises his glass, and begins..)
I DONT, AS A RULE, GET EITHER GIDDY, OR MELANCHOLY, ON BIRTHDAYS. I tend, as I age, to regard them as the equivalent of the “Free Parking” space on the Monopoly board. No gain. No risk. A breather. Change your socks, comb your hair, and head back out on stage.
There are a few things that make me pause longer than others, however, and my passion for photography is one of them……simply because I wish I could stick around long enough to really learn something about it. Something core beyond the pleasant little monkey tricks that bring me amusement as I stumble my way through life’s gallery. Sixty-one years on, I still feel at times like the kid who just learned that finger-painting is fun, whether you wind up with anything of value or not. Surely, I must be somewhat beyond that stage, I tell myself, a conviction which dissolves like wet sugar once I see who else is out there messing with the finger paints, since (a) their stuff looks like the work of, you know, grown-ups, and (b) my stuff looks like it came from inside a state institution.
What keeps me crawling forward is that what I call “the patterns” keep jumping up in front of me. Try to get this right, they say. We’re just here for an instant.
Wow, where did that come from?
Some of my favorite things in the world are images that can’t explain themselves. There is no “reason” for them to exist, except their need to. The patterns jump up in front of us all, and, to the degree that we try to grab them, photography grows. That’s why it’s never old, why we are all like kid on Christmas morning when we go out early in the morning, clueless as the day we were born, and, through a fortuitous marriage of light and luck, come home with a diamond in our backpack. It’s such a delicious sensation, such an undeserved miracle, such a privilege to be the thing through which the magic shoots, that it’s scary. Being mortal is scary. Getting older is scary……because all this, all of our turn at this, will go away.
Birthdays are a rest period, a time to pull back, a time to re-gird ourselves for the battle.
And I want to keep clicking as long as the patterns come.
Or, as Dylan Thomas so poignantly states it: rage, rage against the dying of the light.