I shoot, with my camera.
A walk on the shore, away from the din of, “active shooter” and “inactive Congress”…bliss.
The board-walk of Long Beach can be as much enjoyment as the surf-walk at the ocean’s edge. Sure, our co-denizens of the surf and sand are a splendor, even humor, to behold. But so is a trek on the boards of our 2.2-mile boardwalk. The most important thing in either venue is paying attention, being mindful, taking it all in.
Walking, jogging, biking can bring much more joy if I am present and take in the environment in which I find myself. Maybe even interact a bit with it.
I saw this young lady jogging the boards, she only spoke Russian but she carried a translator app on her phone. I used it to chat a bit. Her name is Uliana and she didn’t mind me taking photos for my blog post. Beautiful name, Uliana, very fit lady too, I think you might agree.
I biked to the westernmost end of the boardwalk, New York Ave. I came upon the exercisers and very intense exercisers that frequent that area.
I saw one fitness enthusiast wearing what looked like a type of body armor. It weighs twenty pounds, he said and helps in his workouts. I remarked about how much it looked like a bulletproof vest. He said it was not and he told me, “The label clearly said it was not.” I said, ” These days, you wouldn’t want to walk down the street with a long package of window shades under your arm.”
Another fitness aficionado was doing pushups from the bench, all the way up…
… and ALL the way down:
Now, I had first noticed the teacher a couple of weeks ago. He was running along the boardwalk with a duffle-bag-full-of-sand kind of workout equipment.
It was preposterously heavy and bulky. He was preposterously fit.
The bag was very cumbersome to carry, much less to run with. I didn’t stop him to “inquire within” at that time. It would have been unreasonable and intrusive. But now as I spotted him once again at NY Ave., he was lifting the bag to his shoulders repeatedly, then putting it down again and again…then doing squat thrusts. All in reps of ten.
In a brief pause, I approached and asked, “Are you a Navy Seal?” He laughed and said, “No.” I said, “Surely your fitness fits your occupation, Physical Fitness instructor?” Again, “No,” but he added, “I’m a teacher.” “Teacher? Must be Phys Ed, right?” I asked. He said, “No, I teach science.” I asked him how much the bag weighed. He said, “About Eighty pounds.” The teacher agreed to some photos but said he didn’t want to be on Facebook or any other social media. But when I told him about my blog and that I’d hide his face and keep his name out he agreed. I never asked his name anyway. So, here’s…the teacher:
Of course, I couldn’t help but notice an osprey flying over the boardwalk with his own workout gear slung below. When you start to spot ospreys, you always spot ospreys. I’m amazed how so many people fail to notice this show going on right over their heads.
When I spotted this sea hawk I couldn’t really tell if he was hauling freight, I took the shot anyway. I only saw the cargo when I later zoomed in. Some might say he “interacted” with his environment. The belly of his catch might reveal that it too, interacted with its own.
Beneath the osprey at the New York jetty, the same day, same time, a gal swayed to the crash of the sea and the rhythm in her earbuds.
Ya gotta love America, ya gotta love freedom.
When the boardwalk boards are wet from rain, the still-new epe wood does not absorb moisture as more porous wood would.
A bike rider has to be more careful of course but the slick surface provides reflections of delight to the observant.
In the mirror of the boards, I saw clouds,
and finally…a music man…strumming to the surf in the morning shimmer:
I approached the guitarist and asked if I could take photos. He nodded. I took a few and chatted a bit. His name is Kurtis Scott and he was the lead singer of The Capitols. Kurtis started out singing Gospel as a child in the south. He was adopted by the Harris family in upstate, NY and started singing with their son, Kenneth. They started a group, the Charmers. Kurtis was 13. Later he worked with the Drifters and the Imperials, off and on.
Kurtis did a bit of acting too, having small parts in “The French Connection”, “Serpico” and “Panic in Needle Park.”
Kurtis told me I could find samples of his work on YouTube. He said he wrote the lyrics on many of them:https://tinyurl.com/Kurt-Scott
I went to that site and found that Kurtis…was damn good!
Kurtis now lives at a nearby nursing home.
Kurtis is out on boardwalk benches often, strumming his guitar or working his keyboard. He still has new recordings coming out too, he said.
When I opened this post I spoke of seeking respite from active shooter reports.
I often wonder what makes a human being become an active shooter, a serial killer of humans. What common denominator ties them together? Mental illness has been shown to be only a factor in a small minority of the cases.
Amy Barnhorst of the University of California, Davis who has studied these shootings said in the NY Times recently, that what ties them together is “this sense of entitlement, this envy of others, this feeling that they deserve something the world is not giving them. And they are angry at others that they see are getting it.”
That rings true to me. I think what these shooters lack is not only the results of success but the satisfaction of competence that most of us feel when we’ve practiced at something long enough. I think they see the world through the eyes of envy for sure. But they also have surrendered to unhappiness, hopelessness.
They see others who have gained competence in different fields enjoying the rewards of that competence: good jobs, loving spouses, fancy cars, etc. When they don’t have it, envy becomes anger and the anger becomes hatred. And they choose to be competent…in murder.
So let me suggest a new start.
Maybe the envious among us, the angry who feel an explosive hatred developing, might consider buying a camera instead of an AR-15, no background checks needed.
Maybe see the world through a viewfinder instead of a rifle sight. As they grow in competence they might just attain some satisfaction. They then might apply the same discipline and tenacity employed in that satisfaction to other healthy avenues. The journey just might be fun, as well as financially rewarding.
And America would greatly appreciate their new choice.