ADRIFT BUT NOT ALONE
By MICHAEL PERKINS
I SPENT A SIGNIFICANT STRETCH OF MY CHILDHOOD LOST. Not being lost, adrift in the existential Neverland that I often inhabit as an oldster, but getting lost, willfully banishing myself to places where I could be utterly, magnificently alone, unmoored from the constraints of community and kind. Days that began with my mother asking “where are you going?” and me automatically answering, “nowhere” are among my most marvelous memories. The fact that “nowhere” was a destination and not merely uncertainty made a difference. I respect the miraculous meaningless of not having to report to someplace, somebody, or something. It’s as close to peace as anything I’m likely to experience.
And, just as I sought for years to be going Nowhere, I cherish the opportunity to, when needed, spend the day taking pictures of Nothing.
What kind of nothing? Well, perhaps I mean anything, as in anything that comes to hand. And, along with that unplanned plan, images of people who celebrate, as I do, the value of just being, not bound anywhere, not belonging to anything, just…being. This makes me a sucker for an image like the one seen here. The original master frame was taller, and showed that, in reality, our relaxed friend was far from alone. And yet, within his immediate space (and certainly in his mind) he was as solitary as it gets, and so I cropped the shot to reflect that. Big shots often contain enough visual information for several pictures. This was one of those cases. Our Man In Red clearly had no need of the extraneous people in the scene, as he had already bought his express ticket for Nowhere. So that’s the way the photo feels now.
Of course, when you quit the society of people, you have the potential to get re-connected with Nature at large, and, in a world in which we are generally estranged from much of our environment, that in itself has become a trippy experience. We remember how to move through the woods but have forgotten how to let the woods move through us. And so, when I am shooting Nothing, I get a real ping of kinship when I behold someone who is busy being Nowhere. Because, in both photography and life, Nothing can often be Everything.