"We spend so much time creating a facade of what we want to project to the world,
we almost forget what we ourselves are truly about in the process."
-- Jason R. Thrift, The Civilization Loop: The End Is the Beginning
|Self portrait 5-24-13|
|Self portrait 5-24-13|
"Sometimes the simple
is the most difficult.”
-- Linda Olsson
When I tell people about my self-portrait projects, I get mixed reactions. The response that intrigues me most is one of sheer horror. In this Facebook world of self-image over-indulgence, believe it or not, there are people who just can't fathom even taking, much less sharing, photos of themselves.
I must admit that some self-portraits are easier to share than others. It's the simple ones that are, for me, the most difficult. No costume to hide behind. No effects. No makeup. No disguises. No body paint. No sunglasses. No nothing. Just me. Me looking straight into the camera. Exposed. Open. Unadorned. Vulnerable.
These are the self-portraits that put a lump in my throat as I press the "publish" button.
The ones of the "real" me.
If you look intently enough, this kind of self-portrait contains flashes of me at age 4, at age 8, at age 21 ... all of me are in there looking back at me. It can be unsettling. Disturbing. Scary.
But I find a kind of solace in these images as well -- a sort-of settling as I lock eyes with my self. It's a "Well, I guess this is where we are" kind of feeling. It feels true, and honest, and basic, and actual, and real, and centering somehow. Like getting back to the most basic basics. To the barest bare bones.
Lately, my daily existence feels as if it has been ground down to its bare bones. As I scrabble to live with the unpredictable and arbitrary side-effects of chronic insomnia, sleep deprivation, chronic pain and fatigue, I am learning a different approach toward how to live. Less is definitely more when you don't have the energy for much. I am adapting, surviving, by keeping my agenda as clear, as empty, as unscheduled and as simple as I can. I have pared away all but the absolutely necessary-est involvements, relationships and commitments.
My brain can't handle complicated right now. My spirit can't handle difficult. And my body can't handle hard. Sometimes I can't even bear the weight of clothing much less the weight of demands or expectations. My softest, least binding t-shirt and a pair of worn, loose jeans is as dressed as I can get.
Even though it might seem like I am looking out at you from this self-portrait, I am actually looking in, at me. I am simply letting you see what I see.
And that is the hardest part.