If this is your first time reading Susanne Bacon’s and my feature, Double Take, an explanation is in order. My writing partner, Susanne Bacon, and I select one idea, word, photo, or concept. After agreeing on the single thought and title, we move to our respective secret writing places. During our writing time as our fingers tap on our keyboards, we each discover what words flow from each of us on our chosen Double Take topic.
It is fun to see the take each of us has on the same subject. I am from America. Susanne is from Germany. I am a man, and she is a woman. I am old. She is young. The combination of our differences, especially the personal life experience each of us have accumulated, blend to create two separate takes on our chosen single subject. Thus, Double Take.
For almost a month both Susanne, and I have been short on time and thus short on ideas for our next Double Take feature.
At the last minute, we agreed on an idea for Double Take, which is the photo below. Voila, Double Take.
Susanne and I shared only the photo and the title, Stairs To Nowhere. Let the writing begin.
When I happened upon the lonely stairs, located on Canyon Road East, about a mile south of 72nd Street East, the scene captured my imagination.
I got my camera out without knowing what I was going to do with a photo of this infinitesimal part of our entire globe.
The scene makes my thinker spring into action on four levels.
THINKER LEVEL 1: STATUS & HISTORY:
A variety of thoughts and questions pass through my mind.
How long ago were these concrete steps laid? They remind me of the 1930s and 1940s.
Who built them and why? They look like old house stairs to me.
Who were all the people that lived in the house? What stories would they have to share?
Why were the stairs not demolished when the house was removed?
Were the steps left as a part of a vast cosmic plan designed for only me to discover so Susanne and I would have a Double Take topic? That last stair question naturally leads to, is there a God?
Oh, how I wish steps could talk.
I have driven past this sane location thousands of times during the past 61 years. Still, I cannot, for the life of me, remember anything about the original scene.
THINKER LEVEL 2: IMAGE & CONCEPT:
The stairs are like life. Most of us start at the bottom, and work our way up through a series of steps. We grow up. We complete our education, followed by getting a job. Marriage often comes next, and then children. We buy a house for our newly established family. Working hard and maintaining a good job only years later to be followed by retirement. The last step which the stairs and vacant land depict, is our final step, death.
For some, the stairs to nowhere may parallel their life, which because of adverse circumstances and / or a wrong decision, make them end up nowhere. Life experiences such as divorce, bankruptcy, disability, unemployment, arrest, prison time, lousy health can all be a part of ending up nowhere.
THINKER LEVEL 3: BOTTOM TO TOP OR TOP TO BOTTOM:
For an unexplained reason, my eyes, thoughts, and concepts move from the bottom to the top step and then beyond. There really is not much of a beyond; just grass, trees, and shrubs.
Life can be like that too. Anyone of us can be born with a silver spoon in their mouth. That is like landing on the top step in the beginning. The silver spoon is an image meaning being born wealthy and privileged. Following a wonderfully advantageous start, any human being can throw it all down the stairs because of bad business decisions, a bad marriage, criminal victimization, divorce, or alcohol and drug problems.
Yes, life, like the stairs, can go both ways, up or down.
THINKER LEVEL 4: TURN-A-ROUND:
If we find ourselves down and out, perhaps burdened with a variety of problems, we can turn-a-round and take a step upward, thereby climbing out of our drab and problematic existence.
Our photo shows stairs to nowhere, but stairs can always take you somewhere if you are prepared to take the first upward step.
Care to read Bacon’s Double Take? Click here.
Joe Boyle, author of the Suburban Times’ column “Westside Story”, and Susanne Bacon, novelist and author of the Suburban Times’ column “Across the Fence”, are sharing their thoughts about a variety of topics in their joint project of double features called “Double Take”. Comments are more than welcome, as they know that the world has more than their two angles – the more the merrier.