The last few days have been interesting in very unexpected ways.
I took my first flight in a small plane, handling it for a some time in the air, on my birthday. Going in I was more curious than excited. Curious to see whether it would turn out as exciting as I had always imagined it would. The surprising part was that it didn’t quite happen. I had always thought that the feeling of taking off while sitting in the pilot’s seat would be euphoric, but it wasn’t. I had imagined that flying in the air with the clouds, far above the reaches of branches and leaves, cars and houses would make me feel in perfect balance with everything, but it didn’t. Maybe it was just one of those things that has been in the pipeline for so long, that the experience doesn’t match up to the irrationally high expectations and fantasies that become associated with it over time.
That’s not to mean that I didn’t enjoy myself. The time spent trying to control the plane, flying and turning, and bringing it back on its intended flight path was probably the most challenging thing I’ve done in a very long time, and I am quite pleased and satisfied with the fact that I finally got to do it. There is also joy associated with it, but I feel the euphoric salvation that I thought it would be was probably misplaced since there was the element of learning something brand new, while it was happening. Maybe the euphoria arrives during the first solo flight, or possibly even later when one is familiar with the aircraft to an extent that it doesn’t involve having to concentrate on every tiny movement. So maybe I shouldn’t get disheartened by the fact that it wasn’t as awesome as I had made myself believe. After all, I remember being quite dissatisfied during the first days of learning my camera. This is no different. The more you practice, the more familiar you become with the tools being used, and the easier it then becomes to focus on the art, rather than the technical, of the craft.
The other topic of curious revelations has been photographic education. I had decided that while in the US I would visit the different photography schools I am considering for pursuing a course next year. It had seemed to me as if visiting the school and seeing the facilities and infrastructure, meeting with the faculty, staff, and students at the school might give me a better idea of the place, thereby assisting me in my decision-making process. That may still be the case, but having visited CDIA (Boston) and Hallmark, I’ve come away with the queer feeling that nothing much has changed insofar as my opinion of each of them is concerned. Hallmark has great facilities and equipment which are a couple of steps above what CDIA offers, but on the flip side it’s more than twice as expensive while also being situated in a very remote and isolated area. Admittedly it is located in the middle of the arts scene in New England, and is well situated from some of the major cities such as Boston and New York. That said I’m not quite sure how easy it will be to live there. A car or at least a bicycle will definitely be needed to move around.
Drove down to Oxford today. It’s about 65 miles from Solihull and took a little over an hour to get to. Silverstone, where the British round of the Formula 1 world championship is held every year, lies on the way and I was extremely tempted to ditch Oxford and head over to the track instead. Not knowing whether they’d have a track day today, and also not having much money in the wallet did convince me to keep driving without turning off the motorway though.
Oxford is a student city and feels like one. Everywhere you go, you’ll see somebody walking about with a set of notes or a pack of books in their hands, while others scurry about going from home to their college or vice versa. Of course you can’t help but also feel a bit of nostalgia about your own college days when you look at all of them, and it’s a good feeling to be reminded of those relatively carefree days. The college buildings are great to look at from a design point of view, as are the streets and small alleys between them. I mostly walked around and didn’t bother with any of the touted tourist attractions that I find to be trite in a place such as this. Spent a couple of hours walking the streets and came away with a good feeling inside, of having visited what is possibly one of the most revered cities, educationally, in the world.