It is of great significance that the word ‘commute’ has an added meaning; to commute is to change one kind of payment or obligation for another, that being the underlying factor in my becoming a commuter passenger.
My life stretches out in front of me and trails behind me like railroad tracks. I am the train, the passenger and the engineer. The way I haven elected to live, and the goals I have worked toward have been my route and my destination. As a passenger on the train I could get off, choose a different route or pause just to check out the view. What has unfolded throughout my life is a product of these choices.
But such is not the case when you are a commuter passenger, taking a single route over and over, perhaps to a job, or school, or as in my case to care for my mother at the end of her life. In 2013 when my mother descended into dementia, I found myself traveling regularly on the Long Island Railroad, fulfilling my mission as caregiver. Just like a passenger on a commuter train my route had become fixed, I could not get off the train; life had chosen this destination for me.
Riding the rails I found myself deep in thoughts as ambiguous as my understanding of dementia itself. My only recourse was to surrender my control to life’s unpredictability. As a photographer, my camera and my private world within the viewfinder has always nourished me; providing a vehicle to experience life through my observations, and a method for expressing these experiences creatively. In this solitary commute I turned to my toy friends, Holga and Diana, whose power lies in their reliance on serendipity, and the relinquishing of the controls that photographers are so fond of.
I spontaneously photographed the moving scenery outside the train window, exposing each frame multiple times. My mindset remained open to the mystery of not knowing the result, or how the multiple exposures would combine. With all the controls pushed aside, I experienced my train ride, as a metaphor of what life had placed in my path, a catalyst for letting go.
What resulted was a sequence of “happy accidents,” that declared life as the supreme architect of composition. Guided by the hand of intuition, the tracks, the stations, the billboards, or whatever rolled by my window were a part of a process of random selection, but within their unity as a complete image, they express and exalt the interrelatedness of all things in the physical and conceptual world.
Within the fabric of this experience, the personal challenge that confronted me found support and direction in my life’s work as a photographer. Letting go of the confines of my visual preconceptions and my overreliance on technology further enriched this experience, and reaffirmed my understanding of photography as an art of discovery. [Official Website]