I think it’s pretty easy to get in a rut. Get up the same time everyday. Watch the same news channel as I get ready for the day. Take the same commute to work or school. Eat much of the same food. Get together with the same friends. Let’s face it, routines are . . . comfortable.
But here’s the challenge. When we do so many things the same way time after time, we forget to notice some of the details or nuances. We look back in time and ask, (Going for my second David Bryne reference in two days. Am I in a rut?), “How did I get here?”
Brain research has shown that routine, and not exposing oneself to new things may calm, but it also dulls our memories. Memories of like experiences fade as our brain senors them repeatedly. They quite literally go into auto-pilot to register them. After time, the brain nerve endings go, “Been there. Done that. Snore.” We become, in the words of Pink Floyd, comfortably numb. The big downside to that is as we age, the brain actually makes us believe that time is flying faster. What can be worse to an aging baby-boomer but the end coming towards me at a quickening pace?
For me, photography has become an important device to literally slow down the pace of time. I am seeing new things, and see old things in new ways. While I’ve long considered design and aesthetics to be an important and relative to my own sense of place and being, photography is forcing me become more active and interactive with design. It provides purpose to explore and discover. And it’s medium to reveal and express. This immediate project, “Textures of Minneapolis” is forcing me out to neighborhoods I’ve visited, but now it’s making me look deep for some of the details.
I believe collecting all those images helps my memory too. I believe it will make me live longer, or at least remember more of the details of where I’ve been so time will not feel like it has just passed so darned fast.