Portraits {JM}

By joselle - February 24, 2013

“After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn...
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure... 

That you really are strong 

And you really do have worth... 

And you learn and learn... 

With every good-bye you learn.” 
― Veronica A. Shoffstall

I had no idea how to begin this post.A nice, deep quote perhaps, or a witty one-liner. I was stumped until I opened Goodreads (home of instant quotes but really, it is more than that) and I stumbled upon this poem. Not a quote, so it is a tad longer than what I am used to posting as openers for my posts, but it captured what I wanted to say perfectly, so I  decided that it would have to do. It HAD to do, actually, since nothing else would work for this post, methinks. Somehow, I read this post and felt like this was written for a friend of mine, and perfectly described all that she has gone through in the past few months. (Whew, looooong intro!) 

I caught up with a former Law School classmate for a short shoot.  I had wanted to get a portrait of her for the longest, longest time and it was also a chance for us to catch up. And catch up we did! I didn't expect to hear a lot about what had been going on with her life, since it was only a few months ago after the last semester ended. It turns out, however, that a lot  happened in the span of a couple of months. Suffice it to say that she endured one heartbreak after another, experiences that I personally dread for myself and would never, ever hope on my worst enemy. Well, they happened to her, and listening to her talk, it took a lot of willpower (and blinking) for me to prevent myself from breaking down and crying.

At one point I asked her, how did you smile and go about life during those times? It was hard, she said, but she managed, especially because her friends and family were there to rally around her. That is what's so amazing with the human heart. It can take hit after hit after hit, and yet, you find yourself standing. Battered, yes, hurting, even more so, but standing still. And in some instances, that is all it takes for you to take that one step, and that one step means you are still pressing forward. I had imagined a casual shoot for us, spent mostly talking and laughing, nothing really serious, but after learning about what happened, we agreed to incorporate some more personal stuff, a way of honoring not only the  loss but also the good that came out of it.

We managed to incorporate some personal details here and there... a shirt that belonged to a close friend, a book given to her by her mom. Sometimes it strikes me as odd, how the most important things that are dear to us are not those that we have bought for ourselves, and not even the most flashy or expensive ones. It's the things that are given out of love, or left behind by someone as a hopeful promise of a return, that eventually hold the most meaning. 

This short shoot and catch-up session again reminded me of the idea that we are blessed with one or two (if we're really lucky) great loves in this lifetime, and that the head-over-heels kind of romances do exist, even if you only get to spend it with Prince Charming for a brief moment or for the rest of your life. But perhaps the best reminder was of special people who are put on this earth to help us learn something, before they are taken away again. The cliche 'Life is a journey' is still true, and we meet people along the way are more than friends, lovers, classmates, or even enemies. Some people are placed in front of us to teach us something, restore our belief in love and fairy tales, and let us know that no matter what we may think about ourselves, there is always someone out there willing to love us the way we deserve to be loved.
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  1. There's always something good that comes out from taking pictures that involve personal things and stories. I would love to take more pictures of people with stories like this. Well done and I am jealous of all your blog updates, you have so many to say and post! I am reminded how uneventful my life is turning out.

    Anywhoo, very much agree on the things that hold sentiment. That's what actually I had in mind when I started the "One Thing Project". The most ordinary, old things with the least price are the ones that hold the most value; another one of life's sweet ironies.

  2. Oh thank you, thank you! Coming from you, that is such a great compliment Kat! Yes, I think I am becoming more and more drawn to seeking out people and experiences and documenting them. And no, I think your life is FAR from uneventful! I'm soooo looking forward to our next project as well as the other projects we put on hold... (we should get them done before you get going no?) Thinking about it gets me excited all over again...I'm choosing the ones that I'm planning to incorporate in the shoot. Looking forward to seeing your moodboard too!


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