Conviction and seeing the Pope from a distance

DSC_5051.JPG

The Pope visits Peru for three days and it so happens that this morning he visited the suburb  I currently stay in.

He led the church mass this morning and so naturally my housemates and I were drawn to the action. I brought my camera and almost straight away my instincts took over and I aspired to take the best photographs that I could. I wasn’t able to take any good photos of Papa Francis himself but as I stood in a corner the people around me began to reach out to me in ways I haven’t witnessed here in a while.

DSC_4920.JPG

One of the guys protecting one of the pathways (gated off and protected by military on the other side) handed me a bottle of water when he saw I was unprotected by the sun. As we were told (in Spanish or Italian, I don’t even know) to greet each other as children in Christ people shook my hand and waved to me. By the end I had ladies asking if I could be in photographs and selfies with them.

For most of the service I felt a fake because I wasn’t at the service for catholicism belief or devotion, despite the fact I don’t believe there’s core difference between it and Christianity (despite man made institutions that lead them). I was there to see the Pope and to take photographs out of selfish gain. I didn’t feel guilty about it, but I did feel a fraud.

DSC_4952.JPG

But then near the end of the service I felt a different type of conviction.

I realised I didn’t need a title of journalist or a media badge to enjoy doing what I love. I wondered once whether or not I just loved the feeling of importance when I was in my former job. No. I feel important when I’m feeling good about my work.

DSC_5024.JPG

After the service ended I took photographs of the aftermath, the crowds, clergy and police taking photographs to recognise where they were. I jogged to the apartment I lived in and downloaded the 300 photographs I took and shortlisted 30. I then sent them off to a Peruvian news-blog I read and follow in the hopes it might be interested in my work.

DSC_5076.JPG

They responded before I took the photographs and as I sent them the emails I felt nervous. I was scared of rejection and that’s when I knew I was doing the right thing. I was being challenged.

*Note: I write this having had most of a bottle of wine. It’s good wine. I’m probably still tipsy.

Photography is to witness and give | Writing is to push and pull

 

DSC_4612.JPG
A Quechua youngster brings his brother or friend in the hopes of receiving more Oreos from a stranger (I wasn’t the Oreo giver).

Okay, so the good news is that these thoughts I shared in the last post of returning to Australia were just sickness-thoughts.

Damn that cuy! (hamster).

I woke up this morning and then did a 10 km trek to 4450 metres and saw a glacier overlooking the lake I sat beside. I had a great time. There were no deep and meaningful thoughts, no contemplation of the meaning of life, no meditations about God.

….

DSC_4193.JPG
Amy! My housemate roams Huanchaco.

Bullshit.

Okay, as I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake listening to…what? This was silence but for waterfalls fresh from a glacier lake. The wind blew but there were no roars of a plane vibrating in the far distance which we’ve always tried to zone out when we reflect. It was only the sounds of nature, and the sounds of my thoughts were stunned by the silence of the natural world around me.

As I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake contemplating why my favourite author was Roald Dahl (I always enjoyed his children books because he made his neglected child characters believe in magic in times of darkness, but it’s his adult works like his Tales of Madness that fascinate me because his sense of magic is there, but it’s in the behaviour of his characters who react in the most surprising of ways).

DSC_4510.JPG
The statue of Jesus overlooking a mass graveyard from an earthquake in the 70s which killed 12,000 people. Not even the churches were spared.

 

As I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake I realised that no matter what, you always carry your mind with you (the sort of thing that sounds philosophical but my Peru-Hermanos,Guy, would shake his head at, for how wanky it actually is. The sort of thing that sounds wise but is over-obvious that it doesn’t need to be written).

Let me start this sentence again for the last time (I’m starting to think I really want you to know I saw a lake near a glacier). As I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake I wondered at my compulsion to write and my need to take photographs. I’m no good at taking photographs but I enjoy it. It’s my way of trying to give to people. By witnessing. By having nothing to do with their moment.

 

Lutie
If I put a photo of Lutie in here he might share the blog post again. Last time he did that the stats increased a ridiculous amount.

Yesterday on the bus I went through my camera to delete old photographs from my old life in Mount Isa, Qld. There were so many photographs I had taken in my job as a journalist, and I realised that while I had a part these were not my memories. Yet at the same time they symbolised all the moments I had absorbed, and taken on. There were cricket matches, scenes of family tragedies (plural), a swimwear comp, and numerous fundraisers and political announcements. These photographs were for other people and I was paid to take them, I don’t mind, but it’s finally time. I deleted them one by one.

DSC_4513.JPG
Another housemate, Nicola, caught in the moment.

Today on this blog post I share with you 8 photographs I’ve taken recently, which I’ve taken for people (why 8? I was going for 10 but the net is slow and with the length of the writing eight is a nice round number to prevent over cluttering). This is my expression and it’s different to my writing.

I know how I sound by the way. Wanky. Pretentious. Arrogant. Full of himself. Egotistical.

My writing, which I  assume you’re reading and not just overlooking for the sweet pics, is something different. My writing is completely for me. As a child I used it because of the praise I received (“You’re going to be a famous author one day, mate. The ghosts flew a rocket ship to the moon, you say? Brilliant! You are so creative.”), then I used it to escape by channeling into my fantasies, then I used it for dreams of fame (ha ha ha ha, dreaming of writing the fantasy series), then I did it because I dreamed of controlling my readers’ thoughts and emotions, and then because…because…it fulfilled my life’s purpose. Then I got paid for it, and then it sort of just became compulsion. Mainly because I couldn’t express myself in any other way.

DSC_3734.JPG
My most loyal reader Adriaan. Another photo of him in my blog is long overdue.

Life makes sense when I write and if one of you in a hundred read this or read what I eventually churn out, and can’t explain your own thoughts and emotions better with one additional word, if you realise suddenly in your dark times that what you’re feeling has been felt before, that you are not alone, that you are not mad or crazy, then…then…well, that’s why I leave myself vulnerable when I write. It’s necessary.

Add in the typical Aussie self degradation: Look at me being noble and shit. Gets on the nose a bit, hey? I feel it is on the nose anyway.

DSC_4472.JPG
Two brothers from Ecuador.

I thought about returning to Australia in my sickness haze, but as I walked I realised that no matter what it goes against my life code. I am a writer. I am at the centre of where I need to be. I can’t give up, because after all, what am I going to write about? What am I going to take photographs of?

DSC_4614.JPG
I didn’t take this photo. This photo was taken by one of the Quechua boys who came to visit us as we waited by our broken bus. I showed them my photographs and then I let him have a go at it.

Leaving Peru would be a tale of madness, but without the stories to go with it. It would simply be madness.