April 21, 2010

Rule from the Center

I grew up in a family of obsessive fanatics. It’s no wonder that today I needed an inordinate amount of obsessive-compulsive anti-depressant drugs, just to allow me not to veer slightly to the right.

I have an inordinate tendency to obsess about my health, my life, and anything else I can attach myself to. If I’m traveling, I obsess about that. If I’m not traveling, I can find a way to obsess about that as well. But nothing captures my fancy like being sick. I can get right down there with the best of them. Soaking any ailment for all it’s worth, and by all means, annoying all around me with my continual need for attention. After 40 years of intensive psychotherapy, I understand my motivations and neuroses, but like all good neurotics, my ailments, no matter how painful and uncomfortable, are a difficult act to drop.

But enough about me. I was talking about my parents. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I grew up in a grand house, where everything had its place. There was the upstairs maid, the downstairs maid, the chauffeur, the butler, the laundress, and handyman, all working tirelessly to keep everything under control. The carpet’s nap was always vacuumed to look like Yankee Stadium. The antiques sniffed of polish, the woodwork glistened, the upholstery puffed to perfection, and I was not meant to disturb or touch anything.

Now, despite this claustrophobic, critical environment, I learned to somehow love it. I have become my own worst enemy. I have taken up and joined the club that I would never want to be a member of. I love order. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and despite everything, I must admit- my parents were right. All things do have their right place.

If you look at my photographs, this sense of compulsion, which has turned into a sense of composition, was nurtured and driven into me from a young boy. Despite throwing it up and out, I have learned to use it in my favor. I have learned to place things in their right place, to find order in chaos, to distill an essence from a catastrophe, and to learn my own rhythm. It all looks so easy, but believe me, it took many years of torture and anguish to learn to rule from the center.



  1. [...] very introspective post by Rodney Smith gives us all pause to think about what it is we want. “Rule from the Center” at The End Starts [...]

    Pingback by What We Mean When We Say “It’s Not About The Gear” | LIGHTING ESSENTIALS For Photographers — July 3, 2010 @ 8:20 am

  2. Hola Rodney, me encantan tus fotografías, y como dices en este texto la obsesión por tener todo en lugar se aprecia muy bien y se disfruta visualmente.
    Me enamore de cada fotografía tuya, tienen algo que me llegan y me tocan. Te felicito por los resultados. Un beso desde Argentina.

    Comment by Valeria Castagnotti — March 23, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

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