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I recently photographed the British ska-punk band The Specials, which is one of my all-time favorites. With the experience still fresh in my mind, I’ve been casually listening to some of their songs again. One that I have not heard in a long time is a cover of a song popularized by Guy Lombardo in 1949 called Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think).
The lyrics are funny, but — as is true with a lot of good comedy — deliver a truth:
“Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink.
The years go by, as quickly as a wink.
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”
The song brought to the fore many thoughts that have been floating in the back of my mind lately. For one, I’d like to spend less time with people who are stumbling blocks to my aspirations and suck away my energies with their pettiness and shallow thinking. I’d also like to spend less time doing work for which I am not best suited.
I don’t know if I will be lucky enough to live as long as Alfred Stieglitz (82), Paul Strand (85), or Imogen Cunningham (93). But I would like to spend as much of the remainder of my time with photography and like-minded allies who understand its power; with my other artistic pursuits; and — sometimes — with just doing nothing at all.
I’m not being dark or morbid. I’m just being realistic. I narrowly beat out cancer and I’ve lost several close family members in recent years. So I’d like to be a better steward of my time in this second go-round.
* * * * * * *
I patiently inched my way toward the quiet elderly man. I engaged in some misdirection by taking some shots of the foliage near him. Finally, I lifted my camera, framed the ancient gentleman within the viewfinder, and created my portrait of him.
I’m not sure now if I imagined it. But as I walked away, from the corner of my eye, I think I saw him pull a small camera from his pocket and photograph me.
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