In this day and age, information for just about anything can be had at the push of a button or the swipe of a finger. That can be good and bad. The good is that we usually can find the information we seek. The bad is that there is so much information out there that it can be hard to discern what is true and what is false. This is where parents can make the difference, because learning begins in the home. Instilling the drive to learn in a person and teaching them to have an open mind can be a powerful thing. An open mind tears down barriers that keep us from learning about new ideas, people and cultures. The willingness to learn and continually seek knowledge increases the chances of knowing what’s true and what’s not.
This post is about my oldest son who has taken an interest in learning about Buddhism. Religion or a way of life, you be the judge. We won’t be debating that here. That would be a never ending blog post. This post is about an impromptu outing to a Buddhist Temple in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This is the perfect subject for my first post of a series of post shot on Kodak Ektar 100. It’s perfect because Ektar 100 is a saturated color film perfect for the red and gold colors of the temple. Even on an overcast day, I still love the rendering of Ektar. It always seems to produce the colors how I remember seeing them.
I love spontaneous trips! Waking up and deciding to do something on the spur of a moment is exciting, even if it just a short day trip. When the kids were younger, it seems we were going places every weekend. Nowadays we tend to not get out as much. There’s really no particular reason. I guess you could say life just happens. On this particular Saturday, my oldest son was doing some research on Buddhism. When my wife saw what he was doing, she said, “Let’s go to a Buddhist Temple”. Needless to say my son was very excited. My youngest was not excited about putting the X-box controller down, but we convinced him it would be a fun trip. I had no idea where this temple was. It turned out that my wife had found this temple by accident after taking a wrong turn a while back.
I have to admit that I was excited myself because my wife had told me about the colors at the temple. With Ektar 100 loaded in my Olympus OM1, I was ready to create some memories. It turns out I was somewhat familiar with the area. The temple was a few miles from the Stone’s River Battlefield where I’ve spent time with my camera. Upon arriving, we pulled into a parking lot through a narrow gate. The gate appeared to be the only opening into the temple grounds which was enclosed by a red brick wall around its perimeter. After parking, we began walking around looking at the statues.
I’m sure you noticed the water bottles on the some of the statues. My first thought was that I could not believe people would actually litter on these grounds. My wife quickly informed me that those bottles were offerings. After some quick research, I discovered that some common offerings are flowers, candles, fruits, incense and water. It appears water was the most common on this day. It might be popular because I also read that water represents purity and clarity of mind. Another revelation was discovering that the red brick wall that surrounded the grounds was not just a wall, but it was a wall of tombs. We walked the perimeter looking at pictures and reading names and dates of lost loved ones, some young, some old.
The most obvious photo I had to take was a shot of the Buddhist Temple. I chose an obvious angle to capture the entrance, but it was the only perspective at that moment to keep from getting unwanted objects in my frame. For this shot, I switched out the nifty fifty for my wide angle 28mm.
After the temple shot, we walked around the building for a closer look. I remounted the 50mm and took a couple of shots I found interesting and a shot of my son standing at the entrance to the temple.
While we were walking around, one of the residents approached us. I took this opportunity to capture my wife and oldest son giving their greetings and salutations.
Now to the highlight of the day. While we were playing around with the cat, a monk came out of a building next to the temple. Wearing the traditional red robe and blue sandals, he walked with his hands behind his back looking at us as he walked. When he walked by us, he did not say anything. He just smiled. He then approached my wife and asked if we had been there before. He thought my son looked familiar. He thought he was a local student who had been attending the temple working on becoming a monk. My wife then told him about my son’s interest in Buddhism. As our conversation continued, we found out the monk’s name was Tom.
Tom spoke with a heavy accent. With careful listening you could understand what he was saying. He talked about the temple. Tom mentioned that only men are allowed inside. He retrieved a Buddhist calendar and gave it to my son. Tom showed my son the New Year celebration dates on the calendar and told us that we should come back on those dates. If I remembered correctly, I believe Tom said that he is only allowed to eat once a day. This is usually before noon. I felt sorry for Tom, because there appeared to be an event happening in the building next to the temple. The aroma of tasty food poured out of the doors and windows. I was getting hungry myself. However, I’m sure Tom is very disciplined and the smell of food does not affect him the way is was affecting me. For my last shot, I asked Tom if I could have his portrait at the entrance of the temple. He gladly posed for my picture.
The last shot of Tom was the last shot on the roll. I always get excited after I finish a roll of film because I know in less than 2 weeks I’ll get to see what I captured. I love this waiting period. When you add the time to complete a roll of film to the finished roll processing time, it can be weeks or months before you get to see your images. This time is good for detaching yourself from your photos. It allows you to be more objective when you see your photos for the first time because the emotion has faded and you can be more impartial about the shot. This has helped me improve my work. Besides, when you get your scans, it’s like Christmas Day.
We left the temple and ended up a Panda Express. Go figure? After satisfying our appetites we headed back home. Everyone had a great time. As parents, we should not be afraid to teach our kids about other faiths and beliefs thinking that our children will change or start believing something which we don’t approve. Shedding the light on other faiths and beliefs might just reinforce your own teachings. Thanks for reading!
Images Best Viewed in Lightbox Below!