Saturday, December 31, 2011
Reflections on Tectonic Plates
Last night, I entered a photography contest. It was the second contest I have entered in three months. I am curious that I have done something like this. In general, I am not a contest kind of gal. I did enter a contest when I was 16 years old. I had to write my life goal in one sentence. I mailed it into a radio station because I wanted so very much to win a Gibson guitar. I wrote: “My life’s goal is to romp through new fields of endeavor.” My entry was chosen for its verve and exactitude from over 500 postcards. I did win the guitar and a surprise gift of perfume, Je Reviens. In college, when money was tight, I sold the guitar. I regret doing so today. However, what can’t be taken from me is that the scent of Je Reviens takes me back in to a specific time in the summer of ’74.
For some reason, the ads soliciting contestants for photo contests have caught my attention. The two that prompted action had a deep, personal relevance to me. The first was advertised in the window of the Whately post office. The Whately Conservation Commission wanted photographs that best characterized the rural nature of the town. The second advertisement appeared in the Vineyard Gazette. “Enter your photos taken on or around Martha’s Vineyard...” for publication in the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. Both of these calls to action prompted me to scan through scads of photographs to see if any were worthy or relevant. I found two for each contest.
Today, this last day of 2011, I allowed myself to step back for a moment and take stock of what I am doing. I am a writer, not a photographer. Why am I throwing myself into photo contests for which I have no professional training? Maybe it is due to my recent sense of impending change. Naturally, that led me to read about change on our planet....which, naturally, pushed me toward a study of plate tectonics. If the earth is subject to major forces of change, might not our spirits be equally liable to change? As I understand it, plate tectonic theory is an outgrowth of the theory of continental drift. Basically, the amount of surface of the earth’s techtonic plates that disappear is pretty much equal to the surface of new oceanic crust that is forming. At the most simplified level, Einstein would say it is the conservation of matter. I would say, “Nothing lost, nothing gained.” So how does my self-tutoring on geological shifts relate to entering contests?
Like a canary down a mine, I feel change in the air. Real change is on its way. Change of a kind that can be measured on a Richter scale; the kind where lives get rewritten. With that knowledge, supported my conscious and unconscious intentions, I am putting myself in the direct course of that that change. Life is too short to hold any back.
I have a genetic disorder called Ehler’s-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). It is a connective tissue disorder that is due to the malformation of collagen. Collagen is compared to a “glue” that lends strength and elasticity to connective tissue. There are six major types of EDS. The type I have, Hypermobility III, is characterized by joint hypermobility, frequent dislocations and early onset of arthritis due to wear on joints.There are other characteristics of this Syndrome, including easy bleeding, easy bruising, soft and elastic skin, slow healing of wounds, poor muscle tone despite exercise and, for most, there are effects on the heart and its vessels. Individuals with Hypermobility Syndrome Type III are known to experience chronic, early onset, debilitating musculoskeletal pain. There is a 50% chance of passing on EDS with each child born to a couple comprised of an EDS patient and someone without the Syndrome. Individuals with EDS generally have a normal life span, but one that requires constant reacclimatization to change. Many aspects of EDS are degenerative. EDS Type III has been identified in about 1 in 10,000 people (depending on which study you read, others report it as even more rare than that). Each patient has to come up with his or her own plan to meet daily challenges head on.
The relevance of photography contests, plate tectonics and EDS is this; no matter who you are, what hand you have been dealt, there are elements at work shifting our worlds --- often so slowly we don’t notice a change. The impact of change can be dramatic or is can be trivial, but the net result is that there is an equilibrium to the equation.
My interpretation of this observations is that no matter who we are, what burdens we carry, or how we comb our hair each morning, we must step up to life. Put ourselves out there and do not worry about the outcome. Take a risk, try something new, try living in a larger, grander way and say out loud, “ I am here and what I do matters.” When I do this, all of a sudden I realize that I am being the person I want to be rather than merely wishing I was that person.
So I will enter contests, take piano lessons, start writing a new book. I will tell the people whom I love that I love them and I will cherish today. Because plate tectonics and EDS and photography contests aside, today is all I have.
The Vineyard Contest