Before and After

I’m sitting here in a café, drinking coffee and writing for one of the “Project 52” themes; “Before and After”.  And I came across this page of a student photographing people before and after they are told that they are beautiful.  


I can’t believe how this has resonated with me; on a number of levels.  I work at the University of Scranton in food service and come across lots of people every day.  I try to be polite, personable and respectful to each and every one that crosses my path.  Whether that’s a simple hello, how are you today, remembering someone’s order or whether they had a test and asking how they did.  I want to connect with everyone that crosses my path.  I mention this only to say that I’ve been challenged in how I look at people.  People around me, people in my family, people I come in contact with.  People in general.  


In my research for this article that I’m writing, I came across this video and it echoes my recent thoughts of dealing with and how I handle people every day.  There are some young men that work with me and they have a signal.  When they see, what they feel is a pretty girl, they send each other this signal telling each other to check this one out.  It reminds me of when I was 15 trying to find a date or girlfriend and all I was interested in was how women looked. Looked by the standards set by peer pressure, society, commercialism, and what society set up as the highest standard.  I was so superficial and materialistic, I have had a hard time reconciling that me with who I am today. 


So this all really started with a quote from the movie “The Last Samurai”.  As a photographer, I’ve spent many days photographing the cherry blossoms in spring.  When I was growing up in New York, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens has an incredible cherry blossom festival that I still try to get back to every once and a while.  Trying to find that perfect one, is like looking for the needle in the haystack. And I’ve spent a lot of time looking for cherry blossoms. The quote from the movie is from Katsumoto and his comment about the pursuit of the perfect cherry blossom


“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.”


I mention these things because from the age of about 14 to 30 we start to look for a partner and exploring relationships, and our place in the world.  At this point in my life, I was to busy looking at the wrong things.  I’ve often felt like I missed this at that formative point in my life.  With several long-term relationships and one marriage behind me, it seems like my priorities are so different now. 


While I’m not involved with anyone physically or in any other way; I’ve come to realize that I can just be content with who I am and accept those around me for who they are.  In a way, this gives me the freedom to connect with people on different levels.  I’m glad I can have relationships on a deeper level, a connection that I think is truer to who I am.  A connection of interests, and pursuits, an ability to listen and learn from each other.  A bond that encourages each to be the best person they can be.



I don’t want to say that physical attraction doesn’t count.  What I’ve come to realize is that there is beauty in each and everyone one of us.  We just need to see it. This is evident in Katsumoto’s dying realization


 “Perfect. They… are all… perfect.”


While it saddens me that it took 50 plus years to figure this out I’m glad I’m not on my death bed.  Watch this video and see if it doesn’t strike a chord in your heart. We are all different and we are all perfect.  That’s the definition of diversity.  Perfection in our uniqueness.  Please, please, please, learn to be tolerant and accepting of those you come in contact with.  Whether they are just passing through your life or a big part of your life.  


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