Return to Goshen

I came home from Thailand the day before and decided to walk, rather than drive, when I went to change my Thai baht back to US dollars and spend some time reflecting on our trip in “my” coffee shop. The best time to truly see your home is the day after a return from abroad. As I posted these photos I had a moment of deja vu. Of course I’ve been here before. It is my home of 23 years, I chose to abide here, hoping to become dude-like in my acceptance of the small pleasures of life. While it does not have the same pastels of the tropical sunrises I shot a week ago, I found  the snow made every shot in the camera look as though it were taken on the grainy b&w film of the 1950’s, and I relished the steel color of the river, the envelope-white sky, the dark bark of oaks and maples in the woods,  the faded red paint on the bridge and restaurant and the marquee, the browner-red bricks of churches and downtown storefronts… you’d think I’d rue the day I left the tropics, but I don’t. These colors aren’t boring to me, they’re subtle, they’re home. But that’s, like, my opinion, man.

In Thailand, a guy named Chase was giving me tips on photography, a sport at which I consider myself delightfully amateur. “Whenever possible,” he said, “zoom with your feet.” I zoomed with my feet for a closer look at my hometown and instead of hating the snow and cold (as I might have expected of myself) all I saw was beauty. This is how I know I’m beginning to learn to abide. The next morning, I went through the day’s images and found to my surprise that my luck-slop (a phrase Dad used to use when we played pool and I knocked a ball in on accident) shot of the day was a capturing of two geese in flight, perfectly in a space between the trees. I was holding the camera in my pocket to keep it dry when I saw them come honking their way up the millrace, then veer to the west. I drew the apparatus like a cowboy and fired three or four times rapidly, pow-pow-pow, missing badly each time, or so I thought. I didn’t even know I’d gotten them in the viewfinder at all when I was shooting, there was so much snow in my face. The trees all seem to reach out to them, lifting them up in their fidelity to each other, pushing them into the sky. My wife and I swam together, flew together, too, we kept honking at each other, and we have landed together.

As I walked I thought about zooming with my feet, and I thought about how a picture is worth a thousand words, and it occurred to me that if you are a poet your job is to zoom with your feet and then give people a picture in far fewer words than a thousand. That is very hard to do. I am glad I have a camera for the times when I can’t seem to quick-draw a poem, when I fail to capture the essence of a day in the viewfinder of my words. Even some days, when I am really abiding, I find it hard to describe the beauty of a heavy, wet snowfall. But it is basically the beauty of being at home.

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The author lives in Goshen, Indiana with his wife and four children. He is self-employed as a leadership coach working with business executives, writers and other artists, and spiritual leaders. His clients enjoy business growth, increased vision and purpose, work/family lifestyle balance, and freedom from writer’s block.

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