Posted on Sep 10, 2010 | 1 comment

My father was once hit by my grand-father over his interest in drawing and other gentler pursuits.  These were things that my immigrant grand-father thought were useless towards what he was taught a man’s purpose in life was … to make a living for his family.

A generation later my father replayed this experience.  He didn’t hit me.  Instead, he hit my camera.  He knocked it out of my hands, smashing it against the wall.  The issue was the same.

This act was a replay of what my father had been taught. However, it also resulted in a major insight for him and a major step forward for generations of his family to come.

Perhaps he recognized his own suppressed artistic longing, those creative urges in him which morphed from things like the soft pencil drawings he made for mom early in their life, to his ending up in a more expected and practical pursuit of art … a career as a draftsman.


Wherever his insight came from that day,  it moved him to quietly fix the camera that night.  I found it the next morning,  sitting on the dining room table, repaired and working. He never said another word about the incident.  Neither did I.  We didn’t have to.


From that day forward, he rarely took issue with my more artistic pursuits.  Later in life he would quietly listen and look at my work when I was sharing it with others.  He  even made encouraging remarks about it now and then. I like to think that he may have lived out some of his own artistic longings through watching his son.

From a grandfather that never had the luxury to even consider anything artistic, to a father who tried to but couldn’t break through, to a son who was finally given silent permission to follow his heart, each generation builds upon what the other has learned.

Since that time  I have made over 5,000 photographs, exhibited some, and had a much richer life for it. It is a surprise to me that in a back-handed way, my father was actually a significant influence in making this happen.

I wonder what my grandfather and father would think of the opportunity for such a massive outpouring of personal expression which is made possible by the internet.  I wonder too if the upcoming generation understands the pain, suffering and sacrifice it took to arrive at this new freedom.


One Comment

  1. I have to comment about this. It is rather personal. As you know you mother would support you in what ever you chose to do. She did worry though in those early years, how in the world you were going to support yourself let alone a family studying birds and bugs and anything else that moved. You have proved what I have told my children and have tried to follow myself to follow your dreams and what you enjoy and you will find a way to make it work. Congrats on a very successful and meaningful life. Just so your head does not swell too large, I still find you strange in an interesting way. LOL

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