I have, ever since the Viet Nam era, had a special place in my heart for those left behind. I was one of the very fortunate ones to have a high enough number in the lottery to be spared the draft. Many of my best friends were not so lucky, and their widowed girlfriends and wives were left to cope, alone and empty.
Our family has always been close to the military - Dad was in the Navy, my son in the Air Force, my son in law in the Marines and father in law in the Army. I tried, unsuccessfully to get into the Navy, but I was turned down for health issues. So you see, those in service to our country are family, both literally and figuratively.
Mail call was the most anticipated moment before the days of Internet, and more recently the phone call. My son Doug would call from the middle east, sometimes waiting over an hour to get to the phone (10 minutes ONLY), just to hear a few words. Today, they have the Internet and computers and smart phones, but somehow the meaning is lost. Words are spoken but the true meaning of the words, and more importantly the words of the heart are not communicated.
An idea began to stir, but it was in the back of the mind and hadn't bubbled its way to the top.
Several months ago, I was going through a creative dry spell. I was going through the motions, but the clients and the creativity were not coming in. I was in a slump. The most extraordinary thing happened. I remember praying to God and the universe that I needed help, that I couldn't do this on my own, then settling into a fitful sleep.
The next morning, I awoke to my bedroom stereo playing the soft music of Michael Hoppé's "The Yearning, Romances for Alto Flute". Beautiful and peaceful music... I got up, picked up the book I was reading "Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron, and there again was Michael Hoppé, mentioned in her pages. I went to work, put on my music "Day Parts", and there was Michael again. Twice more, Michael Hoppé crossed my radar and I realized that someone, somewhere was telling me something, and I had better act on it.
I searched for his email and after about a half hour of trying, found a link to his company, and sent him a note. I told him that I was going through a dry spell; I had noticed that he had experienced some success and I'd be interested in hearing about his challenges and how he had overcome them.
Imaging my surprise when a half hour later, he called me.
We spoke for the better part of an hour. Most of the conversation is forgotten, but I remember asking him, "Do you write your music on commission, or do you do it for yourself?"
His answer changed my life, or at least the way I perceive life.
"My goodness, I do it because I NEED the rush of the music. I do it all for myself!"
I also remember my mentors Michael Barton and Michael Timmons (a lot of Michaels here...) talking about the art of the self assignment, and that when you are working on a project because you are in love with it, a sense of purity develops within it that causes the final result to rise above the work you are commissioned to do.
And then there is Jessica Lark, a wonderful artist in the genre of boudoir photography, who spent a deal of time in her seminars talking about the types of seduction portrayed in photographs. I have learned more from her postings than I can say, and I'm glad to say we have become friends.
The scene that was slowly appearing in my mind was based on eyes, the eyes of someone separated from their love, loving eyes, gentle eyes, sometimes sassy, sometimes closed; dreaming about their reunion, sometimes sad; unhappy about being alone - always with the fear that something could happen.
The combination of those eyes, the hair, and roses - red for love and yellow for wanting them home seemed to be calling to me.
The first results are here, and getting to know these young women, young moms and their families - and their husbands stationed overseas (Thank you, Facebook...) has humbled me, and fortified my resolve to see this project through.
The more I create these images and drink them in, they become more than photos, they are visual love letters that say more than words could ever say.
To make the process happen, I have started a Kickstarter project, called "The Yearning, a tribute to Military Wive's Love and Sacrifice" . Of course, I'd love any support you can offer, but more importantly, I'd appreciate you sharing this with military families, especially those who are currently separated whether by thousands of miles or by only a few hundred - they are still yearning for their reunion.
This post has taken me way past my normal couple paragraphs - and I have run out of words, but I'm sure I'll find more soon!