I went upstairs to find the right size canvas to start a new painting. A stack of old Life Magazines caught my attention. I’ve tried to sell them a couple of times in yard sales, but I guess I’m meant to keep them for a while. I bought them many years ago because I like old things and I thought maybe inspiration for a work of art would come from them – maybe a collage? I skimmed through an issue published in December, 1988. The cover headlines “ELVIS’ DAUGHTER TALKS about dad, drugs, mom and marriage.”
I flipped to a two-page ad featuring the “new Panasonic Word Processor. It’s too smart to be a typewriter. It’s too easy to be a computer.” Another ad announces that “Panasonic introduces the camcorder than can hold the picture steady even when you can’t.” Yet another says “Once phones like these were science fiction. Now they’re from Panasonic.” Panasonic was busy that year!
So much has changed in 28 years, yet so much remains the same. I wonder how could it be that 28 years have passed so quickly? I have certainly grown older, but have I grown wiser?
Flipping a couple more pages, I came to an article entitled “The Meaning of Life.” Life magazine reporters Karen Emmons, Linda Gomez, Peter Meyer and Bureaus “asked some wise men and women to ponder why we are here. Scientists and theologians, authors and artists, celebrities and everyday sages on the street responded.” The headline for the article was illustrated by a photo by Brian Lanker, entitled “Taijiquan: Dance of the False Tombs.” The photo was haunting, and I wanted more.
I Googled Brian Lanker and found this report from Wikipedia:
Brian Lanker (August 31, 1947 – March 13, 2011) was an American photographer. He won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for a black-and-white photo essay on childbirth for The Topeka Capital-Journal, including the photograph “Moment of Life”. Lanker died at his home in Eugene, Oregon on March 13, 2011 after a brief bout of pancreatic cancer. He was 63.
The year he won the Puliter Prize (1973) was the same year I ran away from my home and family and teaching career in Missouri, traveling to Florida where it was warm, living in a VW van, wanting to learn how to be a “real” artist — searching for the meaning of life even then.
Looking at his website (http://www.brianlanker.com/portfolio.html) I found that his work resonates with me and moves me emotionally in the way I would like to connect with people through my own art. I wonder if he found the Meaning of Life before he died?
So thanks to Life Magazine and Brian Lanker, today I begin a series of Blogs using the quotes from this article to explore what the thoughts of others mean to me as I continue my own personal quest for “The Meaning of Life.”