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Lateral Thoughts on Life.

My Journey to Jakes.

The Holy Bible says that God himself rested on the Seventh day, after creating Everything.

Getting up early is not my normal weekend routine. Normally I try to grab as much sleep as I can but this Saturday, the sabbath day, was different. After work, or any physical creation, there must be a mental rest a recreation, a recharging of your batteries. This weekend, instead of sleeping late, to re-energize, I was going to my version of Mecca, to Colin Channer’s creation, the Calabash Festival, the magical magnetic melting pot, with the St. Elizabeth beach providing a beautiful back drop, a place where authors from around the world would read and discuss, samples of their work and then sell and sign books for appropriately awestruck fans.

I was already somewhat peeved though. I had intended to go to the festival from Friday and even took time off from work. Only to hear, at the last minute, that the bus ride, I had booked, and paid for, was cancelled, due to a lack of customers.   Perhaps the free day was a blessing in disguise though as it allowed me to rest and recover fully from the flu I was fighting all week and now I felt a whole lot better.

I was peeved also because I’d overslept and was running late, hurrying now, scrambling, to meet the bus without even taking a bite to eat. I often go without breakfast during weekdays but it seems like my stomach knew it was a Saturday and was already growling as I turned into the parking spot where the bus was supposed to be leaving any minute now.

No bus was in sight. I was glad that I had not been left behind, or arrived late, but peeved that I had not eaten any breakfast. Being too early is almost as bad as being too late.

I sat next to two older ladies on the edge of the small group that would be my fellow travellers on the Journey to Jake’s in St. Elizabeth.
They responded politely to my “Good Morning”, and continued their apparently conspiratorial whispered conversation. I could overhear their conversation and even smiled at times as one lady described her daily stresses at work and the friend added her bits of wisdom and positivity. As they talked to each other more travellers began to arrive.

A car came up and the driver had a smug smile on his face as he waved hello to us. Behind his smile I could read the thoughts clearly, “See, I told you is pure uptown Brown people going to this thing”. His companion, a dark lady, seemed afraid to come out of the car as she looked at me and the ladies near me like we were predators eyeing her for our next meal. We were all Brownings.

I understood their thoughts perhaps because I had many of their fears myself. I was beginning to think it was a “Browning” bus trip too and was afraid of that. I actually think of myself as a black man, which is kind of strange

since everyone around me sees me as, “Brown” , or they even sometimes treat me like my worst nightmare, “White”. In Jamaica everyone is described by a racial segmentation that defined them. To be Black on a Browning bus would be as incongrous as a White at the local dancehall. I was reading the mind of the driver and his female companion but really I was revealing only my own prejudices and baggage. I had travelled light just a notebook, a book I was reading, about Ancient Chinese Strategy, and my camera, which was tucked in my pocket. But the colour baggage was always with us Jamaicans and it is oh so heavy.

Other cars arrived and dropped off more fellow travellers. One group of four, two guys two ladies, seemed to be young professionals on vacation from the UK and they stared at us all like we were idiots. They appeared Black.

Probably their minds were White though.

The lady from the first car now seemed emboldened enough to emerge from her car and it turned out she was wearing a very sexy pair of shorts and had incredible legs perhaps that was why she was reluctant to emerge from

the car. It wasn’t Brownings she feared it was me. A man.

I was the hungry predator she was wary of.  Her boyfriend, or whoever the guy that dropped her off is, seemed really amused and happy not to be joining her for the trip and waved at us all as he drove off.

I scanned the group, trying to see who else, may be, what I now, had the temerity to, think of myself as. Who else was a Writer ?

A quiet expressionless lady sitting on the patio section seemed a likely candidate. She was obviously observing everyone as I was and making sharp mental calculations.

Two more attractive dark chocolate women arrived and sat right beside me they were dressed in the latest designer wear but not very friendly as they spoke only to each other. A tall brown guy who I knew from UWI camera club days arrived with his girlfriend attached to his ribs.

One of the Brown whisperers now asked me if I’d been to Calabash before and I let them both know it was my first trip.  Same for them they said with smiles. They were virgins too. I found that somewhat hard to believe but managed to keep my doubts to myself. I was interested in writing I said. They seemed genuinely interested about my writing and waiting for me to say more but I had nothing much to add and they soon returned to their whispers. A friend of theirs, another Brown lady, but of Indian descent, joined them both and raised the volume of their conversation just as the bus arrived.

It was big and green and fully air conditioned. Great. There was no doubt we’d arrive in comfort although we were now heading out later than planned.Being too early is almost as bad as being too late. Would we reach Jakes, the location of Calabash, in time ?

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July 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Billy Scorpio.

Woke up very early and logged into Facebook thinking to myself, “the early worm probably catches the bird”, when I saw one of Jamaica’s best photographers, a guy we’ll call Billy Scorpio, on my chat list. Everyone else in Jamaica seemed to be still sleeping.

Billy Scorpio is someone I never met before, in the real world, but I always admired his work and even had the temerity to make comments, in his Facebook Photo albums, when I particularly hated or,  more usually, when I loved, something he did. He always took the remarks of his many fans with a good natured laugh.

I sometimes daydreamed about what it must be like to have a job like his, instead of one that’s just stressful and under-paid. He gets to photograph the country’s top music performers and actors, he works with the most beautiful women all day long. They fawn over his every word, realising that his skills and opinion can make or break their careers. He spends his days telling them which skimpy clothes to wear and what erotic positions to assume. They love him for it. It’s a hard life, but I guess someone had to do it. Billy Scorpio is that lucky guy.

To my surprise he actually initiated a conversation with me, by saying something about my status message, and after some idle banter  I said to him that it must be tough for him to focus with so many beautiful women on the set of his shoots.

He laughed, then quickly replied, with words that I’d replay in my mind for years to come, “You must hunt like a lion …he picks one gazelle and really only hunts for her…he hardly sees the rest of the herd.”

Hunt Like a Lion

Hunt Like a Lion

He then discussed a photo of his I liked and I said it could be the start of a bigger project. He asked me how I would develop such an idea further. After many probing questions, which made me wonder how viable the idea really was, he suddenly found a unifying idea, a big concept, that could link a series of such photos and I then mentioned a potential sponsor.

I had one last reservation, one more doubt, ” Someone in the world must have done it before. ” I said.

“So ? Just do it better.” Billy answered.

I knew our ideas were sound but I also know I have no credentials in his area of expertise. I felt curious since it’s rare in Jamaica for people to be so willing to listen to an amateur’s view.

“Why would you even ask me about this ? You’re the pro, I should be trying to learn from you here.” I said.

“That’s why I asked you. You have a fresh perspective.”, Billy Scorpio replied instantly.

He thanked me for the brainstorm session and said he was heading back to sleep. He promised I’d soon see the results because he was definitely going to work on the project we discussed. He left quickly.

I was stunned. I had just spoken to a Master.

I had learnt from reading Musashi, ( in The Book of Five Rings ), that a true master always learns a thousand things, from one thing, yet it still never failed to amaze me when I met a true master.

Billy Scorpio is such a master. He has focused on mastering but one thing, Photography. From this mastery he has learnt about the importance of Focus and how Perspective can affect your Vision. He has developed Vison way beyond that in his camera’s lens. He had the Eye of the Predator. Realizing the value of both hard work and rest. He strived to always keep a fresh Perspective. He’d never be hungry for prey, because he was always hungry to improve himself.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Beautiful Women, Lateral Thinking, Photography, Strategy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments