When I showed this photograph to my husband he said, “Looks like a bunch of people glued to their devices.” And I can see why he might say this.
But there’s more to the story.
The lovely woman in the foreground had just struck up a conversation with me. I had been stealing glances her way, secretively admiring her style – those cool eyeglass frames, clothing with checks and stripes, zippy bob haircut. She looked up at me and with no hesitation told me the story of her morning. She meant to visit the zoo in Washington, DC today but the rainy weather necessitated a change in plans. She was making a new plan and enjoying a coffee. She said that it was sometimes hard for her to reach out, go out, and engage in the world. She found that just by starting her day with a hot shower and dressing for the day, as though she had some place to go, she felt better. And generally speaking, her days were good. I mostly listened and agreed. I understand loneliness and the way it can sneak up on you.
I wanted so badly to tell her that she was beautiful and ask to take her picture. But I just couldn’t quite work up the nerve. I settled for this picture.
This process of creating is hard. It requires me to stretch myself, and that brings up all of my stuff, all of my resistance. Why didn’t I just ask her? Was I afraid I that my asking would be an imposition? Or was the likelihood of rejection just too much to bear?
Maybe it’s time for me to be on my own side.