Photo: Off the coast of Banda Aceh, Indonesia--March 2009.
Currently in Guarajua, Brazil.
I awoke this morning to the sun peeking through my hotel window. Looking out, I saw the haze setting in, streaks of light glistened and danced through openings in the cloud. The morning traffic had already started without me. Engines roared through the streets of Sao Paulo while I laid still, motionless--looking out at a world that never stops.
I felt empty this morning. Lost. Devoid of hope, jaded by fate. I felt like the world had flipped inside-out, twisted and turned like a kaleidoscope--melting away the very elements that binds us together. I felt sadness and sorrow, pain and displeasure.
I had heard the news--felt a knife rip through my heart. Oceans away, families are torn, people live and people die. It scares me to get up. Afraid of what I'll hear, see and feel. For the first time in my life, I'm afraid to face the world--to accept the truth--because when you live life through a lens, it quickly becomes your mask--a shield to protect you from reality.
My alarm clock went off--but at that very moment, I didn't care--because I knew that a thousand miles away, a different kind of alarm was going off, telling the inhabitants of an entire island to seek higher ground. Indonesia and Samoa hold a special place in my heart. I saw flashbacks of images I had captured, the people I've met and the memories I cherish. It's different when you're a photographer--you see things differently, you learn to cherish moments captured in time like there's no tomorrow. And no matter what type of mask is flung before you, reality some how seeps through the pores of your soul--through the toughest of any skin. And just like that, you're human again, you feel for the people suffering, you pray for their well-being.
I used to capture the world in all its beauty, pain and reward, triumph and tragedy--all without a care for whom was staring at my lens. The shot was all that mattered. The people and their suffering was the cost of doing "business." I was young, ambitious, and naive. Maybe that's why I've changed--somehow, I've turned full circle--and like a vulture turned prey, I've taught myself to love the people I see through my lens.
Sitting on my bed, I began to pray. I hope my friends are safe. I am scared. I am worried and I am desperate to hear from them. I've tried calling, but my calls are answered by a machine--speaking a language I cannot understand.
I've been in Brazil for almost two weeks now. My body aches, my mind is numb and my soul searches for balance. My schedule takes me from one city to another, one village to the next--but no matter how busy I am or no matter how hectic my life may be, Samoa and Indonesia will always be in my heart, in my dreams, and most importantly, in my prayers.