One of the things that defines who I am is driving. Driving is my meditation.
Driving is totally alien from an evolutionary standpoint, and I revel in its foreignness. Springtime, back country road, top down, radio off. That is my bliss. For an ADHD brain like mine, having a totally different point of view every second is amazing. Driving is like time travel from a humanistic perspective. We, as an auto-centric society, have just forgotten that.
As a landscape photographer, driving is also how I got to the places where I liked to shoot. I call it a two-fer.
With Covid-19, I do not drive unless necessary. I do not want to get into an accident and either burden or face a burdened healthcare system. This has been my policy since I started isolating in early March 2020.
I also managed to lose not one, but two, jobs during these trying times, so I find myself with a lot of time, especially in the early morning…. So now I walk.
And I bring my camera along in the hope of finding a shot that interests me. Walking is a totally difference experience. It is slow. Driving compresses distances temporally; walking expands them.
It’s late May, 2020, to be clear, and I am walking around my neighborhood, looking for the things I like to shoot, and not finding them. As I do this, I am violating a rule I taught myself a few decades ago. As a result, I am not getting shots.
I am not slowing down.
So, there I am walking around my neighborhood, looking for the things I like to shoot, when I hear the sickening crunch of a snail. I look down to inspect the wreckage, and find a rout of snails, scampering about, fleeing, or attempting to flee, the harsh rays of the morning sun.
I get down on my hands and knees, then lie down on my belly, and start shooting.
I am not a snail fan, but they have a lot of interesting details to them that are really unusual, so I made this my morning ritual. Go out, find snails, take pictures, disturb the neighbors, come home and edit. I even upgraded my camera kit to match my new style.
As the weather changed from spring to summer, the snails disappeared. I do not know if they are hibernating, or perhaps they migrated to a nicer climate to avoid the hot summer and dry winter.
I am not even sure if I will be there to greet them when they get back.
Cheers to you, little snail friends, and thank you for teaching me to slow down.
Copyright © 2021 Michael Keesling
Michael Keesling is an Academy Award® and Emmy Award® winning inventor with a long history of inventing optical devices. His inventions have been seen in movies as far back as Minority Report and Saving Private Ryan, and more recently in Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. He has also been an avid photographer for the last 45 years, and will be back to shooting landscapes again, hopefully soon.