Self Portrait

The idea of a self portrait rarely crosses my mind.  At least not until last Sunday when we all dove head first into a pile of dry oak leaves.  No one was more excited about the leaf pile than me.  A leaf pile is everything I love, a place where I am comfortable, where I can shed the cerebral and really sense the earth.  Delving into dry leaves is so sensory and human, yet at the same time that sense of self is lost to euphoria and dust.  I felt compelled to have someone take my photo.  Those moments embodied everything that is beautiful to me.  So these are my “glamour shots” if you will, photos of me absolutely as I am.

Frolicking is animal nature. When we frolic we take an active part in decomposition. We break down organic matter. A dry leaf pile is just at that tipping point, at the point where life ebbs and decomposition begins. It’s a holy place. Burying myself under the leaves I experienced what it was like to be soil, or a Jerusalem cricket, or another leaf. Covering myself with leaves helped me understand death. Bursting out from the pile made me feel so alive

Rosa and I share the same birthday.  A mere 34 year age difference between us does not seem to hinder our connection.  Rosie is 2 and blissfully engrossed in leaf play.  Alis is 36 and feeling comparable.  I find Rosie’s presence grounding.  She has an earthen stability that counters my blue sky drift.  Rosa is a good mirror.  I watch her standing up for her self, enforcing her own boundaries.  She reminds me that I too have those inherent skills, it’s just a matter of resurrecting, and putting them to good use.

I like to think of the self portrait as an honest glimpse of who I am.  So much of our energy is spent constructing who we are.  So, rather than composing an image of “who I am” and executing, I felt the need to capture the decomposition of what was really there.  Decomposition causes us to see ourselves everywhere.  We see ourselves in the nature around us and in other people, a random sampling of reflections – dissonance without composition.  These insights help us understand pieces of ourselves that are hard to access, buried under the layers of our constructed personalities.  For me, decomposition took a pile of dry leaves, my niece and a good photographer.  How might you decompose yourself?

Auxiliary Leaf Frolickers