Monday, September 26, 2011


Thank you, everyone.  Thank you for all your visits to my blog despite my recent absence.  I've recently moved and now that I'm settled into my new home, I'm ready to get back to releasing my inner need to write.  Thank you for Waiting.

Class warfare and dividing lines being drawn in the proverbial sand are a daily occurrence.  Shamefully, one side or the other tries to create a swath between their like and others who may be dramatically different.  Rich and poor, gay and straight, single and married, one race and another; if you try hard enough, you can find any particular sect working to alienate their immediate rival.  Yet all of it is ultimately frivolous and petty considering the basics facts of life and needs we all share which seem to be sorely forgotten all too much.

It doesn't take one too long to name someone who is extraordinarily wealthy.  Ask that same person if he or she knows of someone poor and homeless, and you will often get a blank stare or empty pondering.  Taking a look at any inner city climate, and you'll easily find one race pitted against another in something as logically silly as unofficial territory and ownership.  Often riddled in controversy and spiteful anger, one group of people will be taking legal or illegal actions to defame, ridicule, and separate from another when the energy and passion (misguided or not) could be more simply applied elsewhere and for much greater ambitions.

There are no rhetorical ways around it, sometimes being blunt is the only means in which to express truth and I won't dance around for the sake of this point.  The homeless Vet on the corner near Costco bleeds the same color blood, has to evacuate his bowels, and feels the same emotions as does Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey.  Perhaps the Vet doesn't have the same means to arrive at his ends but nonetheless, the ends for Gates and Winfrey are the same for the Vet.  Boiled down, color, creed, religion, political belief, and everything else mean nothing because the life that lives inside one person is the same that lives inside his or her "polar opposite".  Why can't more people accept this?

Waiting, by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is the portrait of a young, athletic ballerina seated on a bench which she shares with an older, more drably dressed woman.  Each has her purpose for being seated which this particular painting does not seem to indicate but we can each surmise for ourselves.  There is nothing glamorous or elegant about either woman as they are depicted though Degas took the time to indicate that one woman comes from a glamorous and elegant lifestyle while the other does not.  Dressed properly for the period and for each woman's stature, each is addressing a real life need by being seated on the same bench.

As the ballerina rest wearily on her right arm and rubs her left foot, she appears to be exhausted from efforts just moments ago.  Meanwhile, to her left, the older woman seems lost in thought and awaiting an outcome to something for which she exhibits forced patience due to circumstance.  Each woman is a contrast of the other--one virile and youthful, the other aged and mournful--easily seen in how she dresses, what is implied, and where she may be going.

Degas, with incredible sensitivity and purpose, smoothly displays the surroundings to ensure our eyes are focused tightly on each subject and the bench they share.  The palette and shadows are all subdued in order to ensure we each take more time to evaluate the women and who they are, rather than why. Poignantly, these two contrasting figures utilize the same tool for varying reasons but with the same ends.  One may be waiting for her audition results while the other awaits a taxi yet they are both there for the same outcome.

This piece is an exercise in tolerance.  It stands for something that has existed since the dawn of man and is gracefully displayed with beauty and simplicity.  Each is equally aware of the other yet their needs are being met in mutual fashion and that makes all things right.

So take a seat on the bench.  Relax and await the outcome you seek.  And when someone sits next to you, know that he or she is exercising his or her ability to be a complete and total equal to you.  Strip away the preconceived notions and dividing lines to see that in the end, it is the same ending for you as it is for anyone else.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Road, Near Guymon, Oklahoma, 2009

Desperation is never a comfortable feeling, I've had my fair share of experience.  Many years ago as a kid in elementary school, I was known by most of my classmates and teachers for being restless and a class-clown.  Bear in mind, I still got my school work done and was actually pretty smart, but I was certainly known for being a disruptive child.  That stuck with me for a long time and to no surprise, came back to bite me more than once.

I was in the 5th grade and my teacher--still today one of my all time favorites, Mrs. Corin--was busy at the chalk board.  A wonderfully sweet and charming woman in her mid-50s, her dress tussled back and forth as she scribbled away with her back turned to the classroom.  Like perfect comedic timing, FAHLOO ... SPLAT!  A large spit-wad hit the blackboard not one foot to the right of her head.  I immediately started to snicker and looked around behind me to see it was my classmate, Ed Mitchell, who had turned his Bic pen into a spit-wad shooter.  He grinned at me just before going stoic as Mrs. Corin spun around and demanded to know who did it.

Blushing has always been a weakness for me and can easily overtake my face.  And wouldn't you know it, I could barely hold back the giggling and as my face grew bright red, I was immediately accused of the crime!  After class, I was told I had to take home a parent-teacher meeting form to be signed by both my parents and to confirm a date and time one was to meet with Mrs. Corin and me.  Ugh, my cries of innocence fell on deaf ears both at school and when I got home to show my mom the note.  She was understandably angry and could only mutter that I had to go to my room and wait for my dad to get home.

Well, my pop arrived and after hearing my mother's tale of how badly my day had gone and of the impending parent-teacher conference, he, too, was understandably angry with me.  He scolded, "I've raised you to be better than this!"  Again, I passionately pleaded my innocence and become overwhelmed with emotion.  Yes, I was a class-clown but even I knew my limitations and would never had gone as far as Ed did.  But my parents would not relent in holding me accountable for my actions and my dad, with great calm and a stern eye, looked at me and said, "What did you do to make them think you did it?"

© 2011 Mitch Dobrowner. All Rights Reserved.

Road, Near Guymon, Oklahoma, 2009, by Mitch Dobrowner (19??-) is an awe-inspiring, humbling black and white photograph of a lonely, dirt road in Oklahoma with a menacing storm off in the distance.  Sunlight is masterfully captured leaking through a break in the super-cell illuminating a lone tree as a singular bolt of lightning strikes the ground.  A self proclaimed lover of Ansel Adams, Dobrowner has spent his life refining his craft in an effort to rightfully, gracefully, and humbly capture and evoke what our wonderful planet means to him.

Immediately, my mind is flooded with metaphors about life and how my personal journey from birth to death will travel down symbolic roads such as this one.  Oh yes, there will be moments where my road will be straight and my immediate destination pretty clear.  But there will also be moments where I can sense trouble ahead and the skies become dark and frightening.  Fortunately, I don't have to go it alone and in the midst of any troubling period, a light will shine through.

Echoing in my head for years, "What did I do to make them think I did it?"  These words plagued me for a very long time both in my mind and in the voices of my parents when I would attempt to defend myself out of trouble.  It wasn't until a couple of years after my mother had passed away from cancer that it hit me like a ton of bricks.  As I was headed home traveling Eastbound on the Pasadena Freeway, I began to sob uncontrollably.  Being responsible for my actions!  How could I have gotten through that much life without figuring it out?

My family and I have all had our ups and downs over the years.  Fortunately, our devoted love for each other has fueled our abilities to weather the rough spots and glide right into the good ones.  Life is a long series of bumps, turns, declines and inclines and though things may seem bleak up ahead, the light always breaks through the darkness as I turn to my father.  No matter how disruptive or unorganized I have been in living my life, my dad has stood by me through it all always concerned about my well being and my future.

Though clouds of difficulty and obstacle may continue to line my path, the one person I know I can lean on to help illuminate my outlook on what's to come is always there.  It turns out, this Road I've been on more than I can count has never been a road I had to travel alone.  My mother was there as much as she could be even during her fight with cancer, and equally important, my father has been, too.  I am older and much wiser now thanks to both but I will admit, it pains me deeply to even think of a time when my father won't be around.  But while he's healthy and about 30 miles away, I know I will cherish each moment I get to see him, talk to him, or know he's thinking of me as I continue to travel through life.

Thank you for being my light, Dad.  I love you.