Everyday Inspiration Exercise Day #2: Assignment: Make a List
I like nature and the freedom to explore it. Its funny how in today’s society our value is gauged by how well we conform to the clock. One of the things I learned when studying the history of communications technology was that once upon a time, this universal ruler didn’t exist. It wasn’t until the invention of the locomotive that time became standardized from town to town & then state to state and eventually spanning the globe. Before that, people wouldn’t say, I’ll meet you at 2:00, they would say, I’ll meet you at high noon or let’s do that in the early evening. Then soon after the railroads came, more machines were invented for the purpose of manufacturing products at the beginning of the industrial age. Once these new machines were adopted, it revolutionized markets because, for the first time in history there was a surplus of supply. That lead to advertising and the realization that there is no theoretical limit to how much one could sell. This gave rise to the assembly line and factories of an inordinately large scale which created the need to control workers in order to maintain efficient work processes and the clock was the standard way of measuring work output.
I once had a sales job where no matter how much I sold, I was always expected to increase that number. I complained about it to the CFO once and he laughed saying that’s the way business works. In hindsight, having been through a wrongful foreclosure, read about the financial crisis of 2008 and banking practices that caused the crash, gone to college to study the history of the market system and its effects on society, I now understand that this is just another side-effect of debatable theories solidified into conventional wisdom at the beginning of an age when rational man gave way to irrational man in spite of the fact that, in America, the principle of equality (“rational man” in market system terminology) is not only engrained in our collective being, vis-a-vis the constitution, but more importantly its a tenet of the very foundation of our social system (The Market System) which is 500 years old and is the basis for the western way of life.
But for some reason, these things are not as self evident as we thought. So, If we are to enjoy life, we have to create our own prosperity. Not by making more money but by making more time. Time to do the things in life that make it worthwhile. Maybe that’s spending time with the family or spending time in the evenings hanging out with friends, or going to those car shows that you love so much, or making movies and music, or going out on more dates, or going hiking and camping or hunting and fishing or reading and writing or shopping and dining. Whatever it is that we like to do, just like work, it’s not going to do itself.
Driving is something that I did a lot when I was a teenager and things weren’t going my way. I got away from everything and cranked up my stereo and just drove. I can’t explain it but the alone time combined with the activeness of going somewhere combined with the alternative music that I always listened to was an experience that was hard to top. When I was in college, I had the freedom to do whatever I felt like in my free time. I chose to spend my free days driving, exploring, and documenting the places that I visited with photography since I was a film student and I liked to drive. Just driving didn’t have the same effect anymore but, combine the old activity with my new found passions for photography and geographical exploration, I was back in the game.
Here’s my standard operating procedure (to call it that is ironic because I was really just flying by the seat of my pants, with no plan whatsoever). I usually did this on a weekend. I would usually get up late with no plans and decide at some point to go drive. I packed up my camera bag and was gone within 15 minutes. Texas is freakin’ BIG (in case you missed the memo or the 11 million Texans who brag about it daily) so, I didn’t know where I was going but I generally headed out towards the hill country which means one of the major highways leading out west of Austin. This would eventually get you to a fork in the road. Without looking at a map (we had no smartphones back in the day) I would just decide while sitting at the stop sign/light which way to go. After a few trips, when I got to a familiar junction, I would sit there for a minute and try to remember which way I went the last time and then turn the other direction. That’s all it took to put me into an interesting little town or a country stretch of highway with some awesome views. Sometimes I would notice a sign on the side of the road that pointed me towards some other landmark that might be cool to photograph. I would then take my pictures, move on to the next intersection and repeat the process. When I finally got weary of the trip, I’d pull out the paper map and figure out where I was so that I could find my way back home. Turning back pretty late in the day, tired and hungry, I’d usually stop off at some mom n’ pop, one-off restaurant for a bite, mark my route on the map and then head back home to my apartment off East Riverside right across the street from Town Lake. Mission accomplished.
So, this is what I like to do. These 35mm photos that I’ve posted here are from some of my favorite day trippin’ expeditions. I’ve seen a lot of Texas since then and the cool thing is…like I say, Texas is big. I’ve lots more to check out.