(Night market built into the old city walls of Cairo, Egypt)
I do not make New Year’s resolutions. My all-or-nothing, competitive personality tends to make promises that my schedule and energy cannot fulfill, resulting in a heavy dose of self-loathing usually followed by a large serving of cake. Yet, I can’t help but be inspired by the advent of a new year and the feelings of opportunity and motivation that come with it. In fact, I have this semi-ridiculous idea stuck in my head that by setting goals now, with January 1st well behind us, I may have avoided the typical overpromise/underdeliver pitfalls that have plagued resolutions past.Chateau d’If, the infamous prison that fictitiously housed the Count of Monte Cristo, off the coast of Marsailles, France)
To remove further potential room for error, I have spent most of January considering the one goal I would like to set for myself this year, rather than the extensive list I usually have by Halloween. After much deliberation, I realized that I would like to spend 2013 taking my photography to the next level. Honestly, I am not quite sure what I mean by that, but I do know that taking photos – of almost anything – brings me great pleasure, and that I would like more of that in my life. So, maybe I experiment with portraits or more macro, abstract images. We’ll just have to see where this year takes me.Palais des Papes, or Pope’s palace, in Avignon, France)
What I am sure of is where I am going to start. I have an extensive blogroll (there, on the sidebar!) that I follow as much as possible. Included are several sites that I have been reading for years, as well as new favorites. One of the newbies is Where is My Backpack?, a collection of travel tales and photos from all over the world, written by the thoughtful and eloquent Ailsa. Each week she hosts a photo challenge in which she provides a theme (usually associated with travel) that her readers are invited to interpret through their lens, sharing links and photos with their take on the theme throughout the next week. I am officially throwing my hat in the ring. Seems a great opportunity for me to put that resolution into action!
(City walls of separating Rome from Vatican City, Italy)
This week’s theme was Walls. One of my favorite aspects of living in and exploring Europe (and beyond!) was that omnipresent sensation that each city was a living museum. As a lover of all things history, it always thrilled me to see the ruins and remnants of earlier cultures co-existing alongside modern day infrastructures. In some places, like Avignon and Vatican City, the city walls are still impeccably maintained. Walking through the existing gates provided a glimpse of what it may have been like to live within that boundary of thick hewn stone that so often provided a first line of defense. It was not hard while exploring castles and fortifications from a time past, to imagine that these walls offered not only physical protection, but represented the boundaries of culture, civilized society and the rule of law. Once one ventured beyond them, they would have been literally and figuratively on their own.Brancion, France)