Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber.
Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet.
Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little.
I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.
- Edward Magorium, from the film Mister Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Who am I?
Its a question we have all, each of us, asked ourselves since the first day we could form a coherent thought.
I will be honest. Much of my life has been devoted, good or bad, to having a good time.
Elsewhere on the internet I have mentioned the "zen" of photography -- part of the appeal of which is how this process makes me hyper-aware of the world around me. It tunes me in on the things surrounding me and allows me the liberty of seeing and perceiving things which might otherwise go unnoticed. Sadly, photography is not yet enough of a breadwinning endeavour that I can abandon my "real" job.
Events in my corporate life over the last decade, however, have led me to the conclusion that my job is not how I wish to define myself. If what I do at the office is the sole lens thorough which people see and react to me, then I have failed miserably in how I, in turn, perceive the world -- and it, me. I am, when all is said and done, an avant-garde Bohemian Hedonist ... with a camera.
There are some who will scoff at this and note that I am prone to sitting at my suburban single family residence watching television with my dog's head on my lap, my beloved wife in her favorite chair, a fire in the fireplace and mugs of hot chocolate sitting on coasters. This is true.
There is another, very rebellious side of my personality which would just as soon be au naturel, sitting in a hot tub, drinking copious amounts of wine, tequila or vodka with a bunch of artistic, like-minded souls of both sexes. And, yes, this can be accomplished at my suburban SFR as well.
You see, I lead a double, though carefully connected, life.
During the day, and most nights, I am Mr. Corporate. I rise at 5am, shower, shave, and plop myself down in my home office my office where I conduct business, talk to clients, and coordinate corporate resources as necessary. I also travel a good deal, visiting offices and customer sites in and around the Western United States. It pays the bills and is a good position in many respects. I work with intelligent, professional people and generally enjoy what I do. At the end of the day I shut down the computer, take out my Bluetooth, and walk away from the desk.
Usually we eat dinner and watch the drivel (and occasional quality programming) on our HDTV. A few nights a week we take off to some part of the city for a meeting of a non-profit, an art showing, a jazz mixer or a music gig (more about that momentarily). In our private world, however, I tend to be the sole representative of the daily Corporate Career. Our friends (and even relatives) are much more artistic and creative in their endeavors.
My wife is an accomplished singer. Four and a half CDs to her credit -- you can find them on iTunes -- and performances in some of the best music venues and hotel resorts in the area. (We have seen the dark underbellies of some of the fanciest places in town: The Bel-Air, The Biltmore, The St. Regis, and even the Ritz. The stories we could tell... but I digress.)
Our friends, for the most part, are variations on the artistic dream. Musicians, poets, teachers, writers, painters, dancers, self-employed artisans -- and others like them -- are the people with whom we are likely to spend our own quality time. Their values may individually differ, but by and large they are a tolerant and itinerant lot, very fun to be with, often wildly unpredictable but marvelously accepting and intelligent. They all share one basic philosophy: Life is meant to be a creative thing. The concept of cubular conformity fills each of them with dread, as it does me. But if you keep your perspective, it's an acceptable evil, at least until I win the lottery.
All too often, however, I see my work associates slowly dying for a lack of "an outside life". In my way of thinking, we work at a job to pay for what we do outside the office. Our lives should not be built around work but the other way around. They say home is where the heart is, but it's also where the soul resides.
Swim naked; dance wildly to a record you haven't heard for years; run while flailing about like Kermit the Frog. Free yourself of one solitary inhibition and you will revel at how wonderful you feel. (Two will make you indulgent.)
Get a massage; drink a little wine; make love passionately. God meant us to enjoy ourselves, and this is lost in the hectic world of "increased productivity". (Buying into that philosophy is killing us all, whether you accept it or not.) Find yourself, and relearn what it was like to be a little child, filled with wonder at the world and the possibilities it offers.
Skip rope; run madly around the house; kiss your dog; spend an hour with your cat staring out of the window, etc, etc, etc.
Tomorrow you can replace the suit, tighten the tie and sit down for that conference call you've been planning. Careers are important, but from one Bohemian to another, it's all there solely to pay for the rest of your life.
Jimmy Buffet, a very famous Bohemian, once wrote the line "Stay in touch with my insanity, there really is no other way."