Mythos & Marginalia

life notes; flaws and all

j.g. lewis

original content and images ©j.g. lewis

a daily breath...

A thought du jour, my daily breath includes collected and conceived observations, questions of life, fortune cookie philosophies, reminders, messages of peace and simplicity, unsolicited advice, inspirations, quotes and words that got me thinking. They may get you thinking too . . .

Mondays are just young Fridays

What has been heard, what has been said, after 24 or 27 months give or take? More or less, what was said (even wished) was mainly, and above all else, that we wanted things to return to normal.

We were longing for the everyday day-to-day, the regular way, sort of; or at least, some semblance of such. We wanted, we said, to be with people again, doing the things we usually did.

We wanted to see smiles, again, on stranger’s faces, we said from behind our masks and wanting so much for our lips to be read as much as our expressions of joy. Or reality. Or anything other than what it was for the 26 or 25 months of what came to be.

We weren’t asking for much, really, or nothing any more spectacular than what life grants us on any given day. We wanted the ordinary, if nothing else.

What we have known is not over. How we are living, coping, or struggling, is not the same as it was eight months, or 11 months, back (or 25 or 23). It was a long time, and longer still will be this shadow of a virus that has hung over us (more than a footnote, and still not quite a chapter) in this never-ending story.

What was, or what is, close to some kind of normal, feels closer now. Dare we say it? We wished it, didn’t we, and here we are now more than two years later, finally gathering in parks and parades, galleries, shopping malls, and back at the office.

Masked or unmasked, we might not be as close as we were before, but we are working on it. Aren’t we? Can’t we now see, or hear and experience life, a little bit like we did before?

Yes, we want more, but right now this is as good as it gets for those of us still cautious, yet relieved, that we are here to see what’s going on.

It is, or seems to be, a return to the usual, the normal, and the everyday ways. For some of us it will never happen, for many of us it will never be, but for all of us there is a new (or another) opportunity for ordinary.

The ordinary: after all we have been through, that may even be better than it sounds.

06/27/2022                                                                               j.g.l.


cloud songs

     Morning begins it all,
yet it is much later
                    you notice
   nights become shorter
when the day is no longer.
          We see less
       than we want to, and
   know more than
          we should.
   Darkness allows silence.
        May your thoughts
            be understood.


06/21/2022                                                                           j.g.l.

Mondays are just young Fridays

The lush canopy of green above us seemed to take its time arriving.
   The recent sunshine, warmth, and humidity contribute to a general feeling of euphoria.
   No specifics required.
   The changing of the seasons is not lost on us; nor is the change of reasons.
   In the grand scheme of things, this feeling doesn’t last as long as it should.
   Shouldn’t we appreciate this more than we do?
   Look up. Look around.
   Think of where you are now and why you are here.

06/20/2022                                                                            j.g.l.

I'm like a pencil;
sometimes sharp,
most days
other times
dull or
Still I write.

j.g. lewis
is a writer/photographer in Toronto.

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You Taught Me To Look

Posted on March 28, 2018 by j.g.lewis Leave a comment

Where are you now Mr. J?

Far too long since we last spoke, decades really, and even then it was only in passing. Before that there were issues, disagreements and criticism; perhaps even disrespect from both sides.

It wasn’t always like that.

Years earlier, I was a teenager lost in the reality of high school, frustrated by the pointless task of education, and surviving only on the social side of life within the institution. I was just another student who floated through the classrooms.

You were, even then, frustrated by the task of educating young minds who either knew it all or didn’t care. Still you tried to connect. You tried to make a difference.

And you did. I know that. I know that because you made a major difference in my life, and I’m not sure I ever properly thanked you.

I remember when we processed the first roll of film in Grade 10 photography. At that time there were a group of us sharing a camera, going through the motions, and trying to have something to prove with our first assignment. We processed the black and white prints and handed them in at the end of the week.

Om Monday, my first project came back with the comment “I sense you’ve done this before.”

I had. I’d been pissing around with my Dad’s camera for years, but then it was only a tool I’d use to get backstage at local concerts, or as an excuse to hang out with the older, smarter girls on the yearbook committee.

I didn’t see photography could be anything more than a hobby until you told me I had potential. Those were, then, inspiring words to a kid who was struggling to find anything interesting about school.

Your classes acknowledged a curiosity I’d been harbouring for some time. Photography. I was too naïve to call it art; it was only fun. That’s all it needed to be.

You showed me; no, you taught me it could be more.

Yes, I was skeptical, at first, but you had this way. You showed me that way. A good teacher doesn’t just teach, a good teacher has that reach. You set an example. You told me a camera could change my life.

You were right.

Three years, right through high school, you challenged my potential. You made me work harder than the rest, you allowed me to experiment, you let me try. Those were the days when using a camera was only a third of the equation. There was the science (the magic) of the darkroom, and the science of capturing light. A photograph is a combination of composition, time, and light, all captured within a fraction of a second.

These were the days when we used real film, and when you had to think about things like exposure and focal length and shutter speed. There were no automatic settings on the cameras we used, but that was not a limitation. It was a chance to learn how things really worked.

You didn’t teach me to take pictures, you taught me how to make a photograph from the raw film. You taught me to not just look through a view finder, but to accept the lens as an extension of my self, and not to look at life as a potential photograph

You taught me to look, to wait, and to see. My perception of the world changed, even when the camera wasn’t strapped around my neck.

Life matters more than the split second you capture on film.

We became close. We didn’t use the word ‘mentor’, and we grew to become friends. But you were always the teacher. You inspired me; you gave me the confidence to apply for that first studio job in the summer. You gave me confidence — both personally and in my skills — to apply for my first newspaper job.

And you helped set the stage for my future journalism career because you showed me how to stay interested in the events and issues that make up the world. You showed me how a community worked, and how connect with the subject.

I’m not sure anybody else has ever inspired me like that, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that to your face.

I’m sorry we have lost touch.

I still look back on the people and places I photographed, decades ago. I have no photograph of you, but I see you there. I still hear you whispering those little tips you don’t learn in a book, even now.

A few years ago, in my new city, I spent the summer reacquainting myself with a new camera in a new format. It had been a few years since I had picked up camera, which is odd because for the longest time it was always with me.

It was everything to me. It became my career. It became my life. Then other things got in the way.

As I now use my camera with regularity, I realize how fortunate I was to have been given such a solid foundation. I realize, now, how fortunate I was to have a teacher who made me proud to be a photographer.

I still am.

A lot of my satisfaction comes from the experiences, the places, and the people the camera allowed me to capture. But some of it is you, and your presence in my life.

You took a kid with raw talent and inspired him to be more. You told me I could make a living and I did. You told me I could be something, and I was.

I still am.

©2018 j.g. lewis


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