I remember it well. It was a cold..dark winter afternoon. I was in desperate need of somewhere to go.. and something that might transport me to someplace warm and inviting.
And - so it was that I found myself at the neighborhood theater. Something - I read on the marquis - about India..about kids..about cameras. When I thought of India - I thought - bright color..summer heat. A perfect compliment to that cold winter day.
It was one of those movies that sparks a fire..that inspires. It was one that transforms despair into hope. Without giving too much away - it is a story of heartbreak..about children living in the brothels of Calcutta. It was about lives that are devastatingly poor and without possibility of change or escape. It was about one woman's mission to provide these children with inexpensive digital toys..thru with they went into their worlds and captured it as they saw it thru their camera's lens.
There I sat - horrified by the lives that these children were living..inspired by the joy they found for themselves within..mesmerized by the color and beauty tht exists in even the most dire and darkest circumstances. There I sat - in my oh-so-comfortable little life. A roof over our heads..a bounty of food on our tables. Clean clothes..soft beds..an endless supply of love.
Ever since - it's been like simmering coals on a slow-burning fire. It's been something that's been calling..something I've been feeling the need to explore. How - with my camera..with my art...with all that I am so lucky to have - might I contribute and make a difference.
Be the change.
Three kids..a husband..work. An impossibility. Not at this age and stage. This kind of adventure and virtuous endeavor was for the young-at-heart..the unattached..those who were free do do what I could not. But still - and often - I thought about it. Those burning embers - occasionally - waking me at night.
Fast forward..and here I am. Kids are mostly grown..mostly gone. And that fire - that began so long ago - is burning brighter.
Last week - I found myself right here in the hear of Boston...in a high school for the arts - visual and performing. A special place where those with nothing and no-one and sometimes nowhere - have found themselves a home. The talent - is mind blowing. The spirit - inspirational. These beautifully gifted children - who come from so little..and yet - have so much.
For me - it's a new adventure. A one small step..or - pehaps - a giant leap into the unknown.
Let's give them cameras. Let's give them a new lens thru which they might view and record.. Let's offer them up a voice and a way in which they might make sense of what is insensible. Let's not focus on the 'how to's' and techniques..but more on the ways in which they might use these cameras as tools - rendering their worlds beautiful..or simply sad..but honest and true. No rules. No expectations. Let's give them them the power of visual story-telling.
It's a gift - this re-creating..this re-designing..this re-making. A time to explore those parts and pieces that have been quietly smoldering..just waiting for some oxygen to set the flames afire and free.
Do I believe I can change the world? No..not really. I'm no longer young enough to be foolishly ideal or that naive. But - I haven't lost that belief in the power of making one small ripple..and how that ripple might become a wave.
One small difference in one child's life - can ever-so-slowly be that change.