E. Winter Tashlin

Youthful Focus [Picture Tells A Story]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | August 02, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: beach, boy, growing up, Maine, Old Orchard Beach, play, PTAS, skimboard, storm

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As photos go, there's nothing overly remarkable about today's. It's not the best I shot that day, but the reason I'm using it for today's PTAS is because it captures a particularly interesting moment - one that is hard to come by for many adults.

What may not be evident in this photo is that for a significant amount of the half hour I saw him riding his skimboard, it rained quite significantly. I'm not talking about a warm, soothing summer rain either. This was the dismal, chilling rain that northern New England excels at even in the heart of summer. At 63 degrees, the ocean here in Maine isn't exactly a bathtub either.

If this kid noticed, he sure didn't show it.

I can relate. At his age, I would get into the ocean or a pool, and stay there until my parents' requests that I get out devolved into implacable demands. Things weren't so different when it came to riding my bike or huddling in my darkroom.

For many adults, those moments of single minded immersion in play are at best hard to come by and, at worst, distant memories. And what "play" we manage to steal for ourselves too often comes with feelings of guilt or remorse, as if by taking time out of our hectic lives purely for pleasure, we are neglecting some imaginary standard of what it means to be a functional member of society.

To be clear, adolescence isn't so far gone for me that I can fall into the Werther-esque trap of imagining the experience to be somehow carefree. There's no denying that a lot about being a child or young adult can seriously suck. But the freedom many (though not all) of us had to simply embrace play is surely one of the less appreciated boons of youth.

Inspired by his example, I decided to stick out the chilly rain for awhile in order to keep doing something that I love, and the shots I was rewarded with a bit later that evening may be some of my favorite photos I've ever taken.

Proof - in my mind - that one of the most important things about growing up is learning how not to leave too much of our youthful selves behind in the process.


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