October 17h, 2017 … Flashback … Hue Vietnam … Losing My Religion
….. “Jingles, get your ass out of there and fall in.” See, I been here long enough to know I ain’t got much humanity left in me but dang it, I’m a photographer. We are humping thru what’s supposed to be friendly area and not have to sweat too much about ambush or fire fight or mortars. So they say. We get near these statues of Buddha and other spiritual beings. I am like in awe of this. My eyes wander all over and I pull the Leica and start making photos. Yes, your right. I was making photos back then and not taking them. I could feel the energy from Buddha and it’s like he was crying. I lowered my head and my heart took over. Not supposed to do that, supposed to be a grunt. Well, I found that Grunts have more heart than any living being. I looked up at Buddha and I felt a weight being lifted. No, it was Hentz taking 60 rounds from my sack. Well, that’s a poor excuse but at this precise moment in life and my time, I felt a kind of spiritual awakening.
I was born Jewish and did the Bar Mitzva and went to Hebrew school. I wanted to be a good guy with a strong religious belief.
Anyway, back to Hue. As I stood in front of Buddha I knew that I had lost my religion. I felt like in order for me to regain my humanity, I would need to abandon many things I learned. I would need to stand in front of THE LORD and and be accountable for my life and actions. (what’s this got to do with photography Shooter?…relax)
I could feel the cold steel of my M-16 on my shoulder. Then all the sudden, these rays of light passed by Buddha and fell upon me. I looked at my Leica and felt my rifle and as the light shinned upon me, I felt like I wasn’t lost anymore. I wasn’t just lost in Nam, I was lost in life. The light that shinned on me was from Mother Light. I could feel the warmth of my Leica. I felt like I was being born again and that a religion was being born from within me and I understood. I knew standing in front of Buddha that he had blessed me with the love that photography would provide all my life. I had abandoned what I thought was Holy and let myself be born to a belief that was in me since I was born.
I wish I could say that I made all this stuff up and that I was a good writer. Bill tells me I am but the thing is, I write what’s coming from my heart. It is something I can never get used to. I turned 21 in Nam and turned 68 on the 8th of Oct. All this time these things have lived inside me. They never went to sleep permanently. Some say that life is but a dream. For me and countless other vets, Nam is life and we live it every moment of our existence. Reality that I am a part of in the here and now, that’s not life to me. That’s the Dream.
Photography still allows me to make photos of the Dream I am in. My camera’s name is Andre’, together we are the Dream Catcher.