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  • Brendan McKay

Mental Escape

Sigh - what is that saying about best laid plans? Don't make them or forever be disappointed? Last year's goal of writing more hasn't gone entirely as planned, in part because it has always been a bit of a mortal frenemy. From afar, I tend to regard the act of writing with complete disdain and abhorrence. Up close and personal however, particularly with a glass of tequila in hand, some Tom Misch on the speakers and an hour of spare time, the act of putting digital pen to paper is actually quite enjoyable. In some respects I can equate this dichotomy of feeling to the exact inverse of that lunchtime, extra-hot-sauce Carne Asada Burrito from the local food truck - manna from heaven from moment the order is placed until about 3am in the morning the following day.



Perhaps most emblematic of my acute dislike of writing is when my kindergarten teacher asked me to write a thank you note to the local fireman who had visited our class earlier in the week. I did as I was asked and wrote "Thank You" in the middle of a page...and, dissatisfied with the fact that those eight letters looked so terribly out of place in a sea of white, I tore away at the edges of the paper until the note was appropriately sized. Don't hate the player, hate the game.



So, as COVID restrictions relax and things return to "normal", writing has increasingly become a therapeutic escape. Forever the introvert, the pace at which things have reopened has been overwhelming for me at times - all of a sudden we're fighting for sidewalk in space in Santa Monica queueing for coffee, or stuck in the snarl of traffic heading north on the PCH at 10am on a Saturday morning. I find myself dearly missing those weekday afternoons in the heart of lockdown where you could hear the birds outside the apartment at 2 in the afternoon, and little else.


The intensity of the pace change has been a good reminder to continue to find time for introspection and meditation, particularly behind the lens. I've left the camera at home the last few months when we've been out running errands or just strolling around, and I forced myself to take it along a few weeks ago as a means of breaking some of the sullen moodiness I had found myself immersed in. The shots weren't particularly magical but the act of pausing for a few moments on a walk, composing a picture and filing away a few mental edits for later is a familiar port for me in some of the new tumultuousness we're all experiencing.



I am hopeful that a silver lining to the return to business as usual is a heightened desire to purposely carve off time for myself to write and shoot, and elevate above the stress of the new/old norm. We've all longed for the re-opening of life, but I for one and going to miss some of those simpler days with an extra hour or two to just exist in solitude and silence.



- b.g.m.

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