Stare.

Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.            – Walker Evans

 

I always thought it was rude to stare.

But Walker Evans, the well-known Depression-era photographer, has a point here. Yesterday, I was doing some last minute homework for my class and had to run outside to my courtyard for a quick outdoor study. As I set up to take a photo of the courtyard, I looked down and stared. Noticing the unique image created by the shadow of the railing on the concrete steps, I snapped this simple picture.

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I have never been one to pay much attention to shadows, and I am beginning to realize how much I have been missing out. Doesn’t the shadow here look like someone spray painted artsy graffiti on these steps? (Or perhaps my mind immediately jumps to graffiti because of a recent “expression” on an outdoor wall at my condo.) And do you see the yellowish-green on the railing? Is that lichen? Leftover pollen from spring? I have never noticed that color before, and I walk up and down these steps many times each day. Or how about the delicate design of the wrought iron railing, most likely a remnant from the 1920s when the building first came to be? Each time I look at this simple picture, I notice more.

Staring, prying, eavesdropping, listening, noticing. I am reminded that that these simple acts make life more interesting and more beautiful. As Evans suggests, we are not here long, and we better make the most of our time and experiences. As for me, I plan to stare a little more.

Here’s what I noticed as I headed back inside:

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