This journey began in abject demoralization. Ostensibly, I could not find a job. Application after application. Resume after resume. Nobody responds. You are reduced to near begging. You are reduced to headers, and tag-lines, acronyms and buzzwords. You lose your voice. You lose your self-esteem. You lose your humanity.
But it wasn’t just about job-hunting. People seemed to be lost in a fugue. Everywhere. The world, with its faces buried in smart-phones, has become even more oblivious to itself. Gun violence, racism, poverty, war, the erosion of common decency and respect, meanness, misogyny, greed, anger, hatred, apathy, fear – in a myriad of forms – has rendered us blind to each other. The zombie apocalypse is not a fantasy, it is a reality spun from our collective subconscious, and we are all infected, lumbering along in a mindless pursuit to devour each other.
I think the problem lies in perception. We see, but we don’t really process. We see and we judge. We see only a tiny fraction of any person or situation, the way visible light is but a sliver of the entire spectrum. We are seeing with blurred and narrow vision and not taking the time to explore the story beneath the veneer of clothing and skin.
It is difficult to stay angry or fearful when we know the stories of others. When we take the time to do that, to really see the person behind the perceptions, it becomes much easier to love.
ODE is our attempt to tell stories and see people. It is a way of removing the barriers of separation, exclusion, and judgment based on a mere first glance. An ODE is an opening, a window into this incredible idea we call a human being.
An ODE does more than humanize. It honors, it celebrates, it is a form of recognition. We create ODEs not just with cameras and words, but with our capacity as empathic, loving and almost-shamanistic story-tellers. We do more than listen. We absorb and become. We don’t just see people, we feel them, and through their eyes we come to love what they love.
It is fitting that I submit myself to the process, so as to show you a little bit of me. This ODE was created by Michele Turner, my partner and wing-woman in this amazing venture (or perhaps I’m her wing-man).
Michele and I have combined our creative imaginations and fifty years experience as students of people, culture, nature, art, music, dance, the visual arts – in the pursuit of love as the mode of peace and understanding that will change this world. ODE is the visual manifestation of this pursuit.
People matter. Authenticity matters. Passion matters. Belief matters. Our stories matter. Because the time of the rugged individualist is over. For the frontiers that remain to be conquered now are geographies found within us, not outside. We, as humans, stand at an evolutionary turning point where survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, and eye for an eye, is no longer a necessary mode of thinking and action. We are Darwin’s Finches, who must now differentiate in spirit. Hearts, not beaks. The vital evolutionary leap for this otherwise doomed species is love. And that is why we created ODE.