Life through the Glass

Glass Wall

The view from my glass wall

As I browse the internet, I see article after article lamenting the fact that people are missing out on life because they’re too busy snapping pictures. There are videos demonstrating people missing relationships and experiences because they are too busy obsessing over their phone. Yes, those articles and videos make some good points. Relationships matter. Life is meant to be lived, so live it. Or as I always say…  Have adventures. Tell stories. My story is different.

My Canon SX50 HS came wrapped in pretty paper on Christmas morning of 2012. Instead of isolation, though, owning a camera with 50x zoom has driven me more deeply into adventure. It has connected me not only with LIFE but with OTHERS. It helps me to tell the stories.

The first week I owned that camera, I found myself taking my boys on long hikes. We explored. Sure, a better father than me might have already doing this. I wasn’t. Until I got that camera. That glass had power that went way beyond magnification. We started having adventures again. Together. We went places we hadn’t been before. We saw things that most people don’t see. And we took others along when we could.

Instead of undermining relationships, the camera has built new bridges. Although it might be hard to imagine now, on Christmas Day 2012 I could identify about 3 different types of bird. But 50x zoom has a way of making birds pretty interesting. My dad has always been a birder for a long time, though. My fascination has given us a new common ground to tread together. I can send him pictures and he’ll help me ID them. When we get together, we enjoy spending the day outdoors hunting birds together. Exploring the world while having fun together.

Oh, and the joy of a new-found perspective! Periodically seeing life through a new lens has altered the way I see life even when the camera isn’t around. I notice light in ways I hadn’t before. The sun shining through the fog. Rays reflecting off a cloud after the sun has already set. The golden hour. A dragonfly or a bee. My son points out things he notices, too, like a frozen drop of dew on a blade of grass. There is beauty everywhere. Just owning this magical looking glass helps me to slow down and notice.

Not just experiencing life…the camera has helped to cope with life at times. When the dog died, a photo walk was a great excuse to get out and get moving. Quietly meandering along the river provided time and space to process the loss. It’s also been a catalyst for sunset photo walks with my sweetie…a great way to carving out time to spend with each other.

Rather than separating us from our experiences, pictures capture those incredible moments in time and allow us to relive them again and again.

"Dad"

“Dad”

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my kids won’t remember what I look like in their memories. They’ll only remember me with a glass wall in front of my face. That guy that always was around documenting life but never living it. I don’t think so, though. I’ve seen and appreciated more sunsets and sunrises with the camera than I ever did without. I’ve noticed more beauty in this world, which has a way of changing not only perspective, but outlook on life. A side-effect of this looking glass has been joy. Contentment. Satisfaction. Connectedness. It has opened up the world of this introvert to a innumerable new relationships. Looking through this glass has led to adventure…not just for me but for the kids. We’re all having adventures and telling stories. It’s beautiful.

Dream Year

New Year’s Eve 2012. The clock is well past midnight…technically it’s New Year’s Day. Everyone else is asleep but I’m enjoying one last cup of cocoa while watching the fire burn down. The scent of spent fireworks mingles with the smoke from the glowing coals in the fireplace. As I wonder what 2013 will hold, my eyelids grow heavy.

We’re all in Paris. Les Invalides. Louvre. Musee D’Orsay. The four of us wander every street, enjoying fresh pastries and chocolates along the way. We round a corner and there it is. The Eiffel Tower. Then Normandy: ParisPont du Hoc, Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, the beautiful French countryside. Another wild adventure and we’re in Villers St. Paul, the town where my grandpa’s plane went down. The entire town is commemorating VE Day, and we’re honored guests. Later, we spend time with Rodin, Michelangelo, Vincent, and Davinci. It’s incredible, but goes by so fast.

Now, back in the States…and there are the boys. But they’re hardly boys anymore, they are incredible young men. Joey’s in high school and is taller than all of us. He’s already an inventor, programmer, and chef. And there’s Will…those dimples, that smile, and that hair… he’s beyond handsome. He’s also incredibly tender hearted. Oh, and smart. Very smart.

The world spins again. Now I’m walking through the streets of a town in Brazil. Christy’s there with me. People with names like Fidellis, Ivan, Vivi, Jacques, Giselle, Douglas, Eliseu, Diego, Flavia, Giovanna, and Debra are as close to us as family. Our life journeys intersect and become forever tangled. Oh, and Jesus is there too. Every step of the way. It’s a beautiful time, but it passes too quickly. Just like the rest of the year.

One more spin…. back in the States again. It’s late in the year and we’re all back at home. We’re talking and laughing around a table, each with a bowl of fried wonton ice cream. But who’s that girl? Somehow, I just know. It’s just…right. It’s Kimmi. She’s part of our family now. Suddenly we’ve got senior pictures, prom, and graduation to look forward to. Amazing.

The Bs

The fire pops and I jump. My cocoa is gone and apparently so is 2013. What a remarkable and unbelievable dream!Oh, and there are Christy and I relaxing by the fire. We look into each other’s eyes…the years have made the roots of our love so deep. It fills the house. She gives me a kiss and heads to bed. I stay up a little longer to write. Books, letters, journals, thoughts, and blogs.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from the Bouchard Bubble. May your years surpass your biggest dreams.

Wonderment

Have you ever given a child a camera? Wonderment results.

It is amazing how this new tool opens their eyes and changes how they see the world. I love taking a look at the pictures my kids take, and I love watching them take pictures. They don’t over-think things. They experiment. It is beautiful and I try to learn from them. Seeing how they see the world changes how I see the world.

On our first few days of our visit to Paris, it was like being a child again. So many incredible sights, lights, and colors filled my eyes that it was impossible to capture it all. But it was a lot of fun. From a photography perspective, how do you capture familiar and often photographed sites in new ways? Here is a sampling of a few non-standard shots…

The Rodin museum. This is my attempt to duplicate a picture that my son took. I thought it was a great idea and I’m happy with this memorable shot.

This perspective helps to capture the sheer number of locks that are attached to this bridge. Looks like there’s a lot of love in Paris!

The angels in Notre Dame cast spooky shadows. 

A view from a bunker on Pointe Du Hoc. Normandy. Imagine the Germans that manned these huge guns, looking out at this beautiful beach day after day. The water was crystal clear and filled with gulls and loons. Then one day it was filled with Americans with guns and explosives. Such beauty and destruction, tied together forever.

Family portrait on the 1st deck of the Eiffel tower. Standing on the marker of the South tower. Those shoes are made for walking. I stole this idea from my son as well, based on some shots he did for Instagram.

A Glimpse of Paris

We landed in Paris at 6 in the morning local time. Having traveled close to 14 hours and collectively getting close to 2 hours of sleep between the nine of us, we were all eager to hit the town!

The day started with a thrilling ride through the streets of Paris. Our drivers said traffic was backed up on the highways, so they took us on a beautiful, quick, and exhilarating tour of the best twists and turns this city has to offer. By American standards, the driving style here might be considered a little scary. But the Parisians have a natural flow to these things and an inch or two always seems to be enough. Even when trash trucks are blindly backing toward you. It was during this ride that we caught our first glimpse of the spires of Notre Dame. We also raced by the Bastille. Our driver was from Portugal, so we got to practice a some of the Portuguese we picked up in Brazil. “Bom Dia!” Fortunately, our best French or Portuguese word in our family vocabulary right now is “Allons y,” which he was already doing very well.

The Bastille. The black Mercedes had 3 of our crew, the other 6 were following in a van.

Arriving at the house we are renting, it was quickly apparent how incredibly lucky we are. This place is in a charming area of town, but it is also practically a mansion. It’s narrower than our house in the states, but it has 5 stories to it, each one incredibly beautiful. On the kitchen/dining area there is a deck that is covered with all sorts of greenery. It’s a slice of serenity.

Since we arrived so early, we were able to meet the family that lives in the house. They were leaving for a vacation of their own about an hour after we arrived. They are wonderful people, very thoughtful and hospitable. They needed to wrap things up, so we dropped our bags off and hit the town with no particular plan in mind.

I love to explore. We looked at a map, pointed to a nearby cemetery, and then headed that way. I don’t know why I find them so fascinating, but Cimetière Montparnasse wasn’t a letdown.

DON'T BLINK
From there we headed up to Invalides. Since this was an acclimation day, we didn’t go in. The walk up to it was lovely. I’m always fascinated by the intricate sculpting that is done in buildings like these. 

Somewhere along the way I was made aware of the fact that most normal people actually do require a measurable amount of both sleep and food. Since none of us got much sleep on the plane, and since our oldest son got carsick on our morning commute and hadn’t eaten all day, it was decided that maybe it would be prudent to retreat back to the house and live to fight another day. I’m sure we aren’t the first to have felt that way after being within a few hundred yards of Napoleon! So, we began the long trek back. I was really eager to see the Eiffel Tower up close, but for today had to settle for this:
On the agenda for tomorrow… up close and personal with Eiffel, Arch, and a few other sites. Ok, we’re mostly winging it. It’s a wild life!