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The Parallax View: July 27, 2010

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"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record – while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry. The story of civilization is what happened on the banks."

- Will Durant

Reflections on Roots

Last night I did something I haven't done in years. I sat under a starry sky and watched a slideshow of my friend's photographs.

There were no swanky stadium seats or high-definition effects, just plastic lawn chairs and a plain white screen. It was my last night on Cape Cod. It was magical.

My favorite photographs in the show celebrated the extraordinary in the ordinary – folks sharing coffee and conversation at the local donut shop, sunburned kids slinging water balloons at summer camp, fathers teaching sons to sail, mothers reading storybooks to dozing daughters, older gentlemen playing pool, preachers shepherding families through weddings and funerals.

The images flashed onto the screen like flickers of an incandescent bulb swinging in my grandmother's pantry, recipes replete with heaping humanity and well-stocked stories.

Each image reignited my passion for photography and inspired me to reconnect with communities where I feel respected and remembered.

And just like the communities that embrace them, such moments cannot be contrived. They occur organically, floating unnoticed by historians. I think the best moments are the quiet ones; they don't demand your attention, they petition your patience.

My journey on Cape Cod, culminating in a slideshow under the stars, led me to discover more than memories. I discovered myself among a community of photographers who celebrate civilization as it happens – quietly along the banks.

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