Here's my mom at 83 literally finding her joy in an Ayahuasca ceremony in the Ecuador Amazon. That there, that burst of happiness you see in those photos never left her from that moment till her last before dying.
Only recently have I ventured more deeply into her things. At first, because photos of her life before me were unfamiliar, I was unsure what to do with them. I was going to just get rid of them. I have no other family connections aside from a cousin. I asked my therapist why people keep the photos from their parent's lives. He said for continuity.
I let that simmer and discovered that my mother was a stereoscopic photography enthusiast. What is a stereoscopic photography enthusiast? She had a camera with dual lenses and created three demential slides of her adventures in New Orleans during Mardi Gras in the late fifties and at various national monuments in the U.S. west. Not only that, she had kept all the negatives from all the photos during my life that she had taken.
So there I am, late one night recently, going through these 3D slides of my mother's life and photos with negatives that include me and then it hit me. I can create 3D slides from the negatives and new 3D slides from my life and select a series that tells her story woven into my own which carries hers forward.
That was the moment I found myself in the continuity and a way to express that through my mother's creative passion.
I'm going to put together a series of 12 slides that start with my mother's childhood photo on the farm during the Depression and including me reading All the Leaving to a group of people at Vroman's bookstore in Pasadena.
While you put the slides, one by one, into the lighted viewer, a 78 record of Una Furtiva Lagrima (one furtive tear) by Enrique Caruso plays on an old portable Victrola record player. Very over the top dramatic but also terribly sweet. Remember my poem, The Sweetness of Life?
~ As we part we also meet and both are just as sweet.
Just returned from another Alternatives to Violence workshop at the prison. Three days of these inmates sitting in a circle, facing each other and wall, after barrier, after mask, all quickly coming down. Like them, it always brings me back to a very real connection to humanity.
This, this facing one another and constantly affirming what is positive in ourselves and others, how much of our own stories are like one another, leads to this -
The reason they are not gong back to prison as much after some time with Alternatives to Violence Program is because they are acquiring the self-awareness and skills to be better men for their families and communities. I get to witness it over years, the changes in the men authentically inspired to better themselves to be better parents, sons, spouses, and siblings. I can say that being a part of AVP is good for the soul.
Michelle Espinosa is Blog-o-licious
I hope not to squander this life on anything less than love. And what do I mean by love? Think fierce love. Love that cuts to the core, that burns away all nonsense in an instant to get at what is most human. M+