Blame It On The Bossanova
April 18th, 2004

Even after all this time it still sometimes surprises me how much I love being on the beach in Laguna. After about fifteen minutes of sitting in the sand this morning with friends, nestled in against some rocks to shield us from the cool breeze, I felt a rush of endorphins flood my body. It was as distinct a rush as when I'm being tattooed and the endorphins kick in to shield my body from the pain of the needle. I guess what surprised me this morning is that I wasn't in any pain and wouldn't have expected my body to be shielding me from anything.

But there it was, the unmistakable, very physical feeling of near euphoria and well-being that no drug could ever begin to approximate. It was nice - and I sat there and wondered if the ocean, the sun, the sand and good friends were enough in and of themselves to bring it on. Or that maybe pain doesn't always have to precede feeling good.

Many months have passed since I last sat down and wrote about my Sunday mornings in Laguna. It's not that nothings been happening - it's that sometimes so much is happening that it's hard to know where to even begin. And sometimes with so many thoughts rushing through my head, I find it easier to just let them be where they are and not try to force them out onto a page.

My feelings about Laguna and the time I enjoy there, often with friends, comes from a place so intimate and personal in me that there isn't always a feeling of wanting to share what's going on - some things are just for me I guess. One of the things that I've enjoyed about this little bit of maturity I've managed to find is the feeling of being OK with where I'm at in the moment. And if the moment says it's OK to be still and not write, then that's what I do.

It's an organic thing for me, this writing about my adventures in Laguna that get passed onto you and then eventually find a home on my website. It's like this thing inside of me that exists in its own space and time, apart from the desires, rules or expectations that accompany my relationships. The letters can't be drawn out of me but have to find their own way onto the page. And that's something I've made peace with finally.

When I write I feel rhythm going on inside of me and a circular kind of motion that feels like music. It's almost as if the words become musical phrases; lilting up and down and coming to a natural, satisfying conclusion at the end of a sentence. Ultimately, words follow the path of rhythm in my writing with the rules becoming more spectators to the dance than arbiters.

I'm thinking that a lot of this came from having learned to speak Italian at such a young age while my mind was still pliable and open to the possibilities of self-expression. Italian is very musical with most of its words ending in vowels so that one word flows smoothly into the next in a seamless rhythmic continuum. Learning to play the piano came quickly on the heels of learning Italian and I think that those two things, in addition to my own natural creativity, helped influence the way words and sentences form in my thoughts. And my writing follows my thoughts rather than rules that have been created to satisfy someone else's need for ordered self-expression.

A rule is like a starting point for me, but the journey my words go on from there is a circular, rhythmic and musical adventure that's all its own. And only once in awhile mine. By giving all of this its due and letting it be where it most wants to be in the moment, I give myself in return, my serenity. And ya'll know how I feel about that!

So if your name or our time together in Laguna hasn't appeared here in writing, blame it on the unseen, unmanageable forces lurking deep within my psyche. Either that or blame it on the Bossanova. Whichever works best for you. Just don't blame it on me because, you know, I'm an artist. And an artist can't be held to the same standards of sanity that the rest of you are.

So in short, changes are once again looming on the horizon. But for the first time in many years those changes don't so much frighten me as intrigue me. My passion for my work as a photographer has returned with all the subtlety of a tsunami and once again the shutter is clicking steadily open and shut with me along for the ride, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I used to think it was all about the images but now have come to understand that it's as much about my fascination with the people I'm photographing as it is the images themselves. Writing about some of the people I photographed over the years has helped me understand that. Behind every one of my images is a story and it's those stories that fuel my fascination.

I took a break for a few years - wandered off the path of being a full-time photographer and did the things I needed to do but always knowing that someday I'd pick up my cameras again and start shooting. I don't regret the time away at all - it's been a great adventure learning new skills, infusing my mind with new perspectives and bringing some stability back into what had become a chaotic life.

In some strange way, (that I think I've been trying to write about in these letters) my Sunday mornings in Laguna have helped keep me feeling good about where I'm at. When I'm sitting at the water's edge with my feet pushed down into the sand and the sun shining on my face, I feel peaceful, happy and at home. That feeling of serenity was something that I needed before I could continue on with my work as a photographer and I'm glad that the ocean helped me find it.

The enormity of my creative instinct sometimes surprises even me. I don't know for sure where it comes from and don't think that it really even matters anymore that I know. It's just what is and making peace with it has seemed like a good thing to do. I've explored most of the options - the possibility that it's nothing more than the way the synapses fire in my brain or the possibility that there's an invisible plan for me lurking about out there somewhere in the ethers and that I've just needed to figure it out. But the more I've searched the less I've understood and it's only been in returning to actually doing what I do best that I've begun to feel excited again about being an artist.

There's more, lots more. And there always will be. So if and when the powers that be inside of me let me talk to you about it, I will. In the meantime, just know that I'm doing well - better than ever really and thrilled once again to have this magic carpet ride of a life of mine, up and off the ground and flying.

From the water's edge as always,
Tom
Pussy Cap