Grateful in the Void

Sometimes we just don't have the tools we need for the job. These days, I am trying to document my life and the social movement happening at the Wisconsin state capitol building in photographs. It is a constant presence here in Madison, with national and international coverage, and my interest in social movements and social change means I am somewhere in the crowd almost daily.

But my camera equipment, it's not up to the job. My film camera is having trouble closing it's mirror once the shutter fires, and the fix is to remove the lens and close it manually. I've overexposed several frames already, and have finally given in to the fact: it needs to be repaired. As for digital, my housemate is kind and allows me to borrow her point-and-shoot camera on occasion, when she isn't using it herself.

So I've been struggling these days: How do I follow my innate, passionate desire (and dream) to photograph and document social movements, women's unique experiences, and everyday moments of storytelling in life -- without the adequate camera equipment?

It's got me thinking about we all experience moments of not-quite-perfect. It's not the right color shirt, not the right size notebook, not the right CD in the stereo. It's not the right job opportunity, not the right teacher for our children, not the right action by the government. From small matters to life-altering changes, we face moments every day where things aren't quite right, or maybe not at all acceptable.

It's in moments like these that I practice gratitude. When I am feeling frustrated about not being able to afford a DSLR or to repair my OM-1, I remember how lucky I am to be living in times of great social change, to witness with my own eyes the power of the people. I am lucky to not face gunfire and mortar shells to stand up for the rights of workers, of healthcare, against corporate greed and politicking. When I'm feeling dismayed at how slowly I am creating business plans and development ideas, I remember how lucky I am to be self-employed, how grateful I am to be following my dreams and walking my path with integrity and joy.

So as I look at another day with fingers itching for the shutter, craving the weight of a camera in my hands, I remember how grateful I am to be breathing deeply of clean Winter air, walking and laughing and dancing all day, honoring my body and heart with good food, meditation, and a daily yoga practice, and I can only pause, close my eyes, and say:

Thank you.