Readers' Submissions

Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 284

  • Written by Dana
  • April 9th, 2011
  • 5 min read


Introduction:

"Judged by the output of labor and their own statements, none of the normal persons had their efficiency reduced by opium. Twenty-two of them worked regularly while taking opium for twenty-five years or more; one of them, a woman aged 81 and still alert mentally, had taken 3 grains of morphine daily for 65 years. She gave birth to and raised 6 children, and managed her household affairs with more than average efficiency. A widow, aged 66, had taken 17 grains of morphine daily for most of 37 years. She is alert mentally but is bent with age and rheumatism. However, she does physical labor every day and makes her own living." — from 1928 observations by Lawrence Kolb in Romancing Opiates by Theodore Dalrymple M. D. c2006

This brings to mind the dictum that it is not speed in driving that kills, it is hitting things that kills. Get your dosages correct and you can have a better life on drugs. Regrettably, I won't live long enough for the scientists (pharmacologists) and the government to figure out correct legal dosages for steroids. The Thailand experience on testosterone and opium will always be just a dream for me.

But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I really want to talk about FoD's (Friends of Dana) is a personal experience involving people, elephants, cameras, and philosophy in a story titled:

IT ALL COUNTS

Hey photography mavens: Dana here with a photo story you can use as a trigger for thought, or something you can use to fill up a balloon. Your choice.

To wit: have you ever noticed how much of peoples' lives are taken up with thinking about sex, or talking about sex, or dreaming about sex, or reading about sex? Is there more? Yes, have you wondered how much time people spend looking at sexy pictures, or looking at sexy videos, or looking at sexy movies? Etc. But how much time is actually spent having sex?

I used to think spotlighting the hypocritical mismatch between peoples' dreams and peoples' deeds made me look smart and clever. But I don't do that anymore. I don't believe that spotlighting the difference between dreaming and doing reflects anything that is hypocritical. It's all part of the same equation. It all counts and it all has a place.

Take photography for instance. If someone with a stopwatch and a clipboard was to roam the Earth and note how much time is spent by individual photography enthusiasts climaxically pressing down on the shutter release button, how big a number would you think that it would be? Suppose a person has been interested in photography for twenty years. So, when he or she is not taking a picture, what are they doing? Well, how about packing and unpacking equipment, dealing with vendors and retail sales people, reading catalogues and websites and manuals and contracts and mail, cleaning equipment, having things repaired, teaching, going to photography clubs, making notes, taking classes, keeping a journal, working with chemicals or cropping or matting or framing, or sending and receiving pics on the computer, and possibly running a wonderful website like this one? It all counts. It's all part of the same equation. Ok so far? All right, how about not even taking a picture when you have a camera in your hand? Can that count?

What? Yes, one of the happiest photography days in this Pinhole's life was spent not even taking pictures when I had the camera in my hands. How is this even possible? Well, I was among a family group at an elephant training and jungle trek camp outside of Chiang Mai in Thailand. The guide counted us off on the loading platform and half of the group plus my self got in one elephant basket and the other half of the family was put on the elephant behind us. I was in the rear of the elephant basket on the first elephant.

Ever taken elephant rides in the jungle? It's like being at sea. Rockin' and rolling, baby elephants under foot, some elephants rocketing off of the trail to eat something, one elephant went on strike and refused to move, and after a while general tourist hilarity takes over.

After a while some Einstein in the trailing elephant figures out that if they could pass their camera to someone in the lead elephant, that someone up there could take a picture of them in the trailing elephant. Genius. And then someone in the lead elephant figures out that if they could just get their camera passed to some family member in the elephant behind them that someone could take a picture of them on vacation and riding an elephant in the jungle. They all spoke Italian (not sure about the elephants). I spoke English.

There were nine of us. Ten cameras. A lot of yelling and arm waving. And where was I? Remember? I was seated in the rear of the front elephant basket. I was the non-Italian, non-family member middle man. Ever try to pass small heavy expensive cameras from one lumbering beast to another lumbering beast on wet muddy jungle trails after a rainstorm? Did I mention the yelling and the arm waving?

If someone had been roaming the Earth with a stopwatch and a clipboard they would have noted that not only did I not spend any time pressing down on the shutter release button, I didn't even have a camera. But that photography day with that family counts. I was part of the equation. My personal memory of that elephant trek in the jungle is filed under photography in my brain. I was happy and smiling and included in a family's photography memories. It all counts. God bless photography.

And I didn't drop a single camera.


Stickman's thoughts:

Glad to hear you didn't drop a camera!