Monday, September 26, 2011

shadows on the wall

we all have shadows on our souls that haunt us. sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, sometimes in the middle of the day, sometimes when we're under pressure, they cloud our judgement or make us behave in bewildering ways. i think my primary shadow is having grown up in a small town where everyone knew everyone. and while that was good in many ways, it makes me overly eager to be accepted and liked, because it meant too so much in that little society. but this isn't really about my shadows, more about how we are affected by the shadows around us.

spending time with a whole lot of people who are long-term unemployed and interviewing them for my book on the danish welfare state, i have seen and felt a lot of shadows in recent weeks. and i think that it can't help but cast a shadow over your own soul and your own existence, to be in contact with so many sad stories and depressed people. it drags you into a kind of darkness yourself, no matter how much anthropological distance you try to have. there is something to the notion that the people you hang out with have a big affect on you and how you view the world (and i knew this, but i didn't realize how hard it would be to keep it separate). and i think it's also difficult, when you're in the midst of a situation, to realize what's really going on, especially one like this, where at the same time i'm very grateful to these people for opening up to me and telling me their stories.

by the end of last week, i found myself feeling short-tempered and crabby. and i couldn't help but be hyper-critical of everyone and everything around me. it was like all those shadows ganged up on me and gave me a very bleak outlook, expecting the worst of the world.

so today, i stepped back from my project and worked on something else - a whole stack of new stitched-up photos that i actually started last week. i hope to get them backed and photographed tomorrow so i can show them to you. there are a couple of new themes...hedgehogs and mushrooms (unsurprisingly) and some travel dreams. it was just the the thing to push those shadows back where they belong...against the wall.

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and don't forget, the last batch of stitched-up photos are 25% off - and i've made it easier...the price you see is the sale price, no code necessary. if there was one you were wanting, now is the time to pounce! and there aren't any aliens or fish in this second round, so it's the last chance at those (for now).


--maria said...

You have no idea how much this post relates to my life right now. Julie. You're such a great writer. <3

stephanie said...

I like this. Thinking about how much of what is around us and what we're surrounding ourselves with can truly and deeply impact us. I always think I can live in a bubble or that it's a one-way street (meaning if I'm grumpy, others around me will get that way) but it's so much bigger than that, even when the end result, that I see, impacts little ole me.

Tara Thayer said...

this all hits home to me; operating under the shadows of the past that are just a part of who you are.


Sarah said...

I can relate to the idea of one's mood being affected by one's work. Kudos to you for taking on this heavy but very important topic.

When you do return to your book project, I came across this article and thought it might be relevant to you:

(Very well drawn, though her conclusion seems wildly optimistic to me.)

Loredana said...

I think as hard as we try it's still hard to separate yourself from the things and people that you surround yourself with especially when you do it so often. It makes you question your own self and motives. My husband grew up in the neighborhood we live in now and it's frustrating because we can't go out one day w/out him recognizing and stopping to speak with someone. Or he'll have to relive certain moments in his life because we've crossed a certain street or seen a certain person. I'm grateful I do not have to know a person in this neighborhood and I like to keep myself that way, my life is private and I share it with those that mean something to me.

ANYWAY, glad you were able to separate yourself for a bit and work on your projects/shop.


Zuzana said...

Beautiful images and sentiments.;)
I grew up in a large town and lived in many big cities.;)m But imagine that I live in a really small town now and am trying to get a hang of it as well.;))