It is Christmas Eve 2009. Christmas means a lot of different things to many people. The transformative and renewing aspects of the holiday have always struck me with the most repetitive sort of impact. Each year it is the same, yet different.
This season was a case in point along that theorem. I pondered that earlier this evening as my girlfriend Donna and I hummed along upcoast in our little Mazdaspeed, under the fading amber afterglow of a brilliant day, this eve before Christmas. The Channel Islands stood in purple shadow relief, as bright streaks of warm color stroked the deepening blue hues of sky.
Orange and blue, sistered each other in the dappled surface of a very calm sea.Â It is my favorite color combination, and something I always enjoy capturing in my photography. Warm and cool: polar opposites in the energy spectrum. They complement each other, and in the realm of human emotion signify harmony. I wonâ€™t get into it here and now. You either get that or you donâ€™t. It is fine either way.
I begin to meditate on the world and my affect in it each season. It is an accelerative process that slowly begins and follows a thread. Then things begin to drop into place confirming my line of thought. This year it was all about friends, and how mine define me. Without their light, I am not too great. I actually sort of suck. At everything. My one redeeming virtue however, seems to be that I recognize greatness, even when that remarkable thing may be hidden within an extravagantly formed, carefully wrought disguise.
I made a list yesterday, of all the people that I know whose light defines my path and art. I stopped counting at around sixty but the troop is far larger than that. In the past couple weeks, many have come to mind, and when they do, I ponder them and what they bring to the world and the table of my life. I give thanks, and ask for God to bless them, and pray that I can be a better friend.
There are far too many to ever physically touch on this very sacred holiday.
Umm, holiday, holy day, set apart day, sacred day: the celebration of the sacrament of gratitude. By grace and gratitude the entropy of this world sees the only real flow that it can. This season saw me get a special gift. So I now pass it along, as in doing so, the sacred nature of the gift will continue, and in its flow, transform and bless others. That is really what my work is about, the transference of blessing. I refuse to hide that light. It is probably why I am a photographer: the affinity for light thing.
Stanley Frantz and I met in the small surfboard factory of Dave Johnson in Goleta California around 1977. We entered the surfboard industry simultaneously. Over the years, our paths have repeatedly bisected.
Stan is unique, in that he has an artistic ability that allows him to communicate emotion in virtually any medium. Let that sink in. Painter, actor, writer, model, whatever form he eschews, Stan can make you feel. He has an innate ability that any aspiring artist would kill to possess.
But here is the interesting thing: he does not know it. I think this may be why it works so well. His mindset allows for him to portray a subject in complete honesty.Â All that he does is uncontrived, and comes from an inner passion which burns with an intensity that few artists know.
He showed up almost capriciously here, in Ventura California this week. So I got to spend some time with him. We walked my town,Â sat, stopped, I talked a little, but listened a lot. I learned many years ago that I would much rather sit and listen to a savant, than chatter about my own life and time. And Stanley obliged.
He told me a story. It did not come out all in one straight ahead tome, but in bits and pieces, in little glimpses proferred over the course of a 24 hour period. And as Stanley Frantz shared his life and world of the past 12 years since we had seen each other last, the story he told leveled me.
It was something America needs to hear, told by the son of a steel worker. The emotion, the breadth, depth, scope, and the timeliness of the story is transformative in its ability to generate hope. It gives a crystal clear view of how we affect our world, and how wonderfully crafted a human being truly is.
Stan Frantz was my Christmas present this year. I hope that by next year, the story I sent him back home to write on his idyllic farm in Pennsylvania, will be ready, to strengthen your heart and lighten your soul, and give you renewed hope for the future.
The experience sort of summed up Christmas for me. In this vignette, I saw the truth in the Bible verse that says: For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that who ever believes on him, will be saved.
Everybody needs salvation. Especially those who think that they have already earned it.
An encouraging Merry Christmas note from Seth Godin is here. (Always surprised at how he manages to be so timely.) Thanks Seth!
Merry Christmas friends. Thank you for the light you bring on a cool dark Christmas Eve, in Ventura California.