Friday, March 16, 2012

Could you do it?...

I just finished reading Dorothea Lange - A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon.  I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fast reader.  I tend to read in spurts and if I don't understand a passage, I reread it and even use a dictionary...unless, of course, it's an historical (aka hysterical) romance or some fluff that I just can't put down.  So, this 450+ page book was a challenge.


I wish I had done a little research before tackling this book because the author worked primarily off information concerning the times surrounding Ms. Lange's life and not personal data.  Personal notes and records from Ms. Lange were basically unavailable...she kept very little...she destroyed most - even photos; so I felt the book did not have a real 'personal' feel.  I was hoping to get inside Lange's head and find out what was behind the making of some of her photos.  Except for the chapter on Migrant Mother, the author never really takes you there.  And, if she did and I missed it, it was because I was wading through tons of information about the era's political scene.


A victim of polio as a child, Lange barrels through life head-first, feeding her passion for photography initially through portraits and then through documentary pieces while employed by the government.  Her physical limitation didn't stop her nor did the fact that she was a woman in what was considered primarily a man's world.  While she traveled and worked, she often 'fostered' her children out and they suffered for it.  I took great exception to this even though it was a common practice at the time.  Today DYFS would be knocking on your door (I would hope).  Her health took a back seat to her passion and to her devotion to her second husband and she died shortly before her long-awaited exhibit opened at MoMA.


I'm a notorious Post-It user.
Note to self:  Buy stock in Post-It Notes.

So, Dorothea Lange lived beyond the limits of her life...very little, if anything, stopped her from pursuing her passion for photography.  As I read the last paragraph, I asked myself if I could do it...could I pursue a passion and not allow the integral parts of my life to interfere...not allow family, friends, health to hold me back?  Could you?

I believe we all have limits.  I certainly do...and they change from day to day, month to month, year to year.   Some are obvious and some are not.  So, what do you do?  Do you grab those moments when the limits are at bay, when you can push them aside for a while, when you have the freedom to pursue your passion?  Or, do you work through and around those limits, like Dorothea Lange, to pursue your passion - at any price?  Either way you cut it, it's a tough trick.

9 comments:

  1. honestly I've never thought about this before ... but those are interesting questions ... I guess I work through and around ...

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    1. I've worked through physical trauma (a broken foot & dislocated toes) to get necessary things (a funeral) done. I severely paid the price and that foot will never be the same. However, I would't classify a funeral as something I'm passionate about (gotta give that one an 'LOL'). At this point in my life, I have to grab the moments when the load of 'limits' is light but one day that will change...unleash the passion!

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  3. My life-long dream has been to live in a different culture. The fact that I still live in my hometown taking care of mom tells me I have huge limits. Probably called responsibility but limits none-the-less.

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  4. this is tough because you know those same questioned would not be imposed upon a man of that era. maybe not today either. women are always thought to be sacrificing something to pursue their passion. i admire her determination...what i know about her, that is. thanks for sharing!

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  5. I admire her for what she did. I could never do that - the guilt would be the end of me. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post - well written, I might add.

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    1. Thank you! And I'm achieving one of my goals...giving something to people to think about. Hugs!

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  6. I guess if you want to get deep about this woman... she did have some limits, those relating to responsibility and self-sacrifice. I think I would have had more admiration for her if she would have had her priorities in a different area, but managed to pursue her love for photography all the same.

    Great post and thoughts, Helene. :)

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