I went out on my Leica Patrol yesterday, but I couldn’t drive anywhere; I couldn’t open any of the doors on my car. It took several trips and a couple of hours to get the ice off, but the roads were too dangerous.
I decided to take my Leica, the official camera of the storm this weekend, and walk around the farm. I didn’t get too far. There were a few inches of snow on the ice building up all last night, and I couldn’t see where it was. I also couldn’t see three feet in front of me; the snow part of the storm had arrived.
Predictably, I slipped on the ice near the apple tree and fell forward, the Leica flying from my hand and landing in a pile of frozen snow in the loving arms of the apple tree. Other than crashing my head into the tree itself, I managed to stay on my feet and skip the fall.
My heart did jump into my throat at the sight of my camera sailing into the apple tree with a thud and landing in some frozen snow. The Leica, much more challenging than me, was fine.
I picked it up, dusted off the ice with my handkerchief, and started taking photos. No problems, but I am ordering a stronger and more protective case.
I didn’t have to worry about the camera; the Leica is built like an iron fortress; it can withstand anything but a direct hit from a shotgun or a tank. It’s even waterproof.
I’ve been writing a lot about the Leica and thinking about why this camera is so important to me. I think the answer is that it is much more than a camera to me, but it has come to me to mark a new passage in my life. I am learning and feeling more intensely, as happens in creative lives when the creative spark is lit.
Life is complicated, and for many, the creative spark is not something they can deal with.
I believe all of us have been given the gift of the creative spark, but only some of us get the chance to use it. Most people on the earth are preoccupied with survival, not creativity.
The Leica came at a critical time in my life. It is an opportunity, and I have seized on it.
It has expanded my creativity and triggered a learning spree, the kind I have avoided all of my life. It marks a passage from one point in my life to another. I’m in an era of change – more creativity, healthier food, brighter clothes, a healthier me, more education.
I don’t want to be an old and grumpy fart bitching about young people and change. I don’t want my brain to rot from inactivity and lack of challenge. As George Forss put it, art saves lives. Creativity saved mine, and now, it will enrich me as I age.
I will still take risks for my work and work hard to prove myself and justify my existence. The Leica has already entered every facet of my work – the blog, the farm, the animals, the dogs, the residents at the Mansion, the students at Bishop Maginn High School. It is not a tool; it is a spark and a partner in seeing the world anew.
I’m taking Leica lessons and planning to go to a six-hour Leica workshop in Boston in the spring. To use the new AI photo editing tools perfect for Leica’s incredible range and versatility, I’m taking lessons for that also.
These classes mark my first educational experience since I fled college to write about the ’60s and try to stay sane.
My teachers are brilliant and friendly younger men and one extraordinarily smart and younger woman. I have never met these people and probably won’t ever see them in person.
This camera challenges me almost every day to learn, experiment, and pay attention. My new friends are always available to me when I need them in an emergency. But more and more, I am handling my camera energies – there have been many – myself.
I tell all of these gifted people about my dyslexia since it is a problem for teachers. They get it. One of them has it, and we work pretty beautifully together. I am surprised and moved by their patience and understanding. And I am learning.
They get me in a way few teachers have ever called me, and I know how to work around my dyslexia with great skill and confidence. Learning can be fun, and I am learning things I never thought I could understand. I am learning.
I see the Leica as a pathway that has opened me to new and vital creative and personal experiences. It speaks to me: get moving, learn, listen, experiment, it says. You are only as old as you think you are. Creativity needs fuel, always.
The Leica was a significant risk for me, both financially and personally. I traded every camera and lens I ever owned for it and used it, and my Iphone Pro Max 13 camera (which took this photo) and the Leica for all my photography, and I’m happy with both.
The Leica has challenged me to go to another level in photography and observation. I find them exciting, healthy, and enervating. The Iphone camera is a first-rate lens that requires little learning. Photography woke up the artist in me, which was yearning to come out but didn’t know-how.
The camera has brought me to new challenges, and even new friends. I realize friends can come into one’s life in all kinds of different ways. Every day there is a problem that makes me want to call one of these people. Now, I rarely do; I am fixing the problems myself and learning something every time.
In getting the Leica, I cast a vote for my creativity, for confidence in myself, even as it suddenly expanded. I need to be worthy of this camera, an excellent opportunity for me at a point in my life where people are giving up on new opportunities. As one gets older, it is so easy to say; I’m okay, I don’t need more, let go, relax, slow down, leave learning to the young.
That’s not the life I want or will accept for myself. The Leica speaks to that. The spark burns brightly inside of me, and I appreciate this gift and will use it to the end.
I realized once again as I watched in horror as the camera slid out of my hands and into the apple tree, just how much this new camera has done to invigorate and expand my life, and hopefully, my creativity.
When that stops, it will be the first death of me. The second will only be a matter of time.