“Living Light”, was written in 2004, as a catharsis for me.

 It was my attempt at taking some control over a world I felt was out of my control.

An Essay On ‘Living Light’

                            “If you’re good, you will be lonesome”

                                                          –Mark Twain “Following the Equator”

          Even in my younger days, it seemed, I was always on the move; constantly searching for something…“different”.  The end result wasn’t important in itself, for when I reached the “end’” I inevitably found myself backtracking and forking off into another direction.  My photography was, in part, a creative outlet but partly too, an excuse for moving and traveling and being by myself.  When I was behind the lens I had some modicum of control of the World  I was in, and my place in it.

          When I think of all the places I’ve visited, I imagine what ‘life’ could have been like if I’d stayed there.  I could have run that gift shop inside the log cabin on that long stretch of open road in Alpine, Texas or been a part of that photo/art gallery in the mountains just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

          I could have woken up with the fog early in the morning to drop lobster traps off a boat in Bar Harbor, Maine or opened a “well-read” bookstore, with a few umbrellas and chairs outside, along that artsy section off Main Street in Pacific Grove, California. 

          I remember and catch myself smiling at the thought of the lines from Don Blanding’s poem “The Double Life”, “How very simple life would be…if there were only two of me”.

          It was just past dusk and nearing nightfall as I came up Highway 285 into Orla, Texas.  Its cold, the kind of cold that eats right through your clothes—but just about right for late December—and the heavy drizzle falling gives a grey cast as far as I can see.  I’m on another road trip, the weather dictating me scouting for photo opportunities I’ll have to create in my mind, saving the tangible images for a different time and a  different light.

          I passed an old, abandoned (but not derelict) general store/café and pulled the Jeep off to the side of the road so I could get a better look.        I’m amazed, as I always am, to find these small glimpses into another lifetime just off the beaten path.  Unlike most urban or semi-rural areas that house places of disuse, this is still–mostly–structurally intact.  No graffiti or broken beer bottles or evidence of unbridled teenage lust.  Just an old, black Economy cast iron stove pushed against one wall with cobwebs and the straw from a mouse nest poking out from underneath one of the old burners.  There’s an old off-white refrigerator with most of the paint chipped away, missing one foot, tilted slightly forward with the door askew and a battered Coca Cola decal on the side.

          In my mind’s eye I create an image of the old stove with sunlight filtered through the broken boards on the walls and dusting across the front with its warmth.

          I make a mental note to come back.

          As I head back to the Jeep I can see light from the big bay window of a small ranch house down the road.  I shiver unconsciously waiting for the heat to begin to warm the Jeep and as I drive slowly past I can see an older man and women, in easy chairs, sitting side by side under the glow of a tall floor lamp.

          As I move on I can picture them, perhaps, sitting under an old quilt, reading and wishing about places far away from this small town in West Texas.  Places, perhaps, that I’ve been through or visited or photographed.  Much the same as I’ve found myself wishing for the warm glow of that floor lamp, the old quilt, a few good books, and perhaps someone to share that all with.

          It’s been a tradeoff; the “living light’”and “getting by” versus settling down.  Now, with my daughter almost 8 years old, I’ve cleaned the road dust off my boots, for the most part, and I’m working on the settling down.  I know all those years of me living day-to-day, as well as my own hermit-like mentality and nature, have not made it easy to allow myself to be close to people…or give them the time to get comfortable with me.

          Still…I made my own choices.  Yielding to one of my greatest flaws of living day-to-day, and moving on, seldom feeling an emptiness for what was left behind.  The road and my cameras seemed to work best for me and, in the end, the results are of my own making. 

          It is what it is… and, perhaps in the end, the best we can do is try to appreciate the things we’ve made and what we’ve been given. 

          This time around, making the time to stop a while and Live, rather than just moving on.

–Doug Clark  2005