If you don't read the New York Times, you're missing some great journalism and a diverse view of the world. And I would argue if you have to read just one issue per week, read the Sunday New York Times, especially their Sunday Magazine. This last Sunday (May 13, 2007) there is a great article by David Grossman, "Writing in the Dark." It's worth your time to read is in a quiet place to think about the ideas.
While I'm not familar with David Grossman's work over his career or his political views over his life, I found this article extremely interesing, enlightening, and insightful about life and work. And while he writes about writing and being a writer, his words can be translated to many professionals and life endeavors that are the creative expression of the individual, such as photography. And his writing style is fascinating to read and real out loud.
The article talks about the idea of Kafka's tale "A Little Fable", in which a mouse is caught between a mouse trap closing in on him and a cat looming behind him, and says, "Alas,... the world is growing narrower every day."
The writer writes about writing, why writers write, to keep the world from getting narrower every day. But it applies to any creative endeavor, you do it to keep the world from shrinking around you. I photograph to stay connected to the larger world and express my view of it. I'm not a professional photographer, and in some respects barely a serious one, I enjoy it for both the pleasure of the work and the reward of the results.
But mostly I photograph to be in the world. Whether it's in my home studio, hiking trails in Mt. Rainier NP, walking around downtowns, at local events, or just going about life, I photograph to stay alive, and like the mouse, to keep the world from becoming narrower every day. I also read 4-6 newspapers about 4-5 days a week to see the world. In that reading, I learn about the diversity of people, places, and events to know I'm one of many in the world.
I also listen to NPR 2-4 hours a day when I'm home, and listen to a variety of other radio stations but mostly classical and blues music, but also world, rock, and folk music. If music written 2 or 3, even 4 or more centuries ago can still touch the soul, I can listen to hear why. And if there is one form of music unique to the human spirit, it's hard to argue with blues as the music of choice.
And when I'm out in the world, I also find ways to buy things from people. I don't use an ATM or other solo interactions. I engage people, and always ask them, "How are you doing today?" And when I go I say, "Have a nice day." Overly courteous? Maybe, but engaging people keeps the world large, and not narrowering where and when I'm standing there wondering where everyone went.
All this requires effort every day to keep the world from getting narrower every day.