I have a real problem with photographs of myself. The one you see on this blog is my current favorite, but it stands out more for being the exception rather than the rule.
I have never photographed well. Oh, my wife and mother may disagree, but probably well over ninety-nine percent of the photos I've seen of myself over the years have nothing to do with my self image. I believe I can count on one hand the photos of me that I've actually liked. One or two of them are from my infancy. I was a strawberry blonde in those days, and undeniably cute. From the time I began losing teeth, however, I've only had a couple of photos taken that I felt captured the "real" me.
One such photo was taken by a student working for my high school year book. It was a publicity shot for our production of "The Mikado" in which I starred that spring. It was a calm shot. Black and white. Smiling but not showing teeth. I believe I had on a striped tee shirt and a sweater. But the expression on my face was calm. Funny thing is, I don't remember being calm during my hormone storm years. Of course, it dawns on me that I'm remembering this photo from a distance: I haven't seen it for years and years. It occurs to me that, probably, what that photo captured was confidence.
No, I wasn't altogether a confident person during high school, either. Except for my talents. I was very active in both theater and choral music in high school, and was (yes, I do say so) good at it. Very good. Award-winning good. That's what I remember being captured in that photo. A kid who was scared to death of life in general being photographed to record the one thing he was good at: performing. I had my game face on. In a world dominated by testosterone-based uniform-wearing life forms, I was good at something they weren't. I had (some) confidence.
Most photos of me taken in my adult life merely show an out-of-shape middle-aged male. Except for the photo I chose for this blog.
This photo was taken last year in a candid moment. Mrs. Woody had the camera out, probably to document something my two adorable - highly photogenic - daughters were doing. I was doing what I've done a lot in the last six months: blogging. She asked me to look her way for a shot, and I did.
So, what does this look tell me?
There's confidence again in that look. Not the arrogance of belief that I am, somehow, the greatest blogger who ever put finger to keyboard. Nope. Don't even pretend to that. But there's confidence there, all the same. Here's a list of things that I feel pretty confident about these days:
- I am a happy, middle-aged man.
- I am very happily married, and have four wonderful children, plus a wonderful granddaughter.
- I'm still a better-than-decent actor and singer, even if I don't get to do either too often these days.
- I'm not a bad programmer, either, as evidenced by more than twenty years working for (essentially) the same company.
- Most important of all, however, is that I know who I am. I have a very comfortable sense of where I fit in the eternal scheme of things, even if I don't always know what I'm doing or why I'm doing it. I have a sense of perspective that I never had as a teenager.
I guess pictures really are worth a thousand words. Or at least, in this case, six hundred and fifteen.