This blog has been years in the planning, stranded in the limbo of "being perfected". It is, in many ways, an analogy for much of my life. So, today, on this first day of the new year, I decided to just push it out of the nest and trust that it, and I, would learn to fly together. I expect that there will be skinned knees and a few bruises along the way but such is life, right?
Where to begin...
In the spring of 2016, I sat in the office of my university's head of Anthropology discussing my future. I had been determined to go to grad school but I wasn't able to narrow down what I really wanted to do there. Dr. Kwon told me that I really seemed to love writing and that the kind of writing I loved didn't require grad school. And then he asked me a question: "What do you really want to do?" While I had been unable to come up with an answer to this question when it pertained to grad school, I had no problem answering his question when it was freed from the fetters of Academia. Without hesitation I responded, "I want to do something beautiful."
Studying social science will open your eyes to all the inequality and injustice in the world. It teaches you to think critically and to communicate clearly. It teaches you to see and makes you uncomfortable. Life is fragile. It is often ugly and rarely fair. But there is also beauty, breathtaking beauty, all around us if one can learn to see it. I knew in my heart that what I truly wanted to do was to honor my own artistic sensibilities and create something beautiful to share with the world. Ultimately, I realize, what I was really doing was honoring my own gifts to communicate in words and images. I was giving myself permission to use those gifts to refocus my own life. I want to do something beautiful and, because I am drawn to that which is small and seemingly insignificant, my focus is on a "little" something beautiful. This was, and remains, my quest and my answer to one of the Ultimate Questions of Life: "What do you really want to do?"
Yes, life is fragile. It is often ugly and rarely fair. And, yes, social science is a valuable field for investigating life's inequalities and injustices and for righting them. But we all need to find things that feed our souls as well as things that critically engage our intellects. This blog and its galleries will, hopefully, serve that purpose showcasing my macro photography and the words those images conjure up for me. I tend to be at my best when I am image-inspired and so I will follow that Muse. If this sounds like something interesting to you, I invite you to come along with me and together we will see where this all leads.
In the midst of this bleak Midwinter, with temperatures hovering near zero Fahrenheit here in the Midwestern U.S., I send out warm wishes for a beautiful New Year!
Karen Opp James
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