Jesse in the forest

Words, Jesse Jackson IV |
Photography, Reed J Kenney | @reedjkenney

My ideal summer lies at the intersection of an imagined coastal New England town, Patagonia, and Southwestern Texas/Northern Mexico desert. Of course, these idealized locations have very little in common with one another, aside from being objects of my desire. If there were a red thread running through, it would be a general sense of peaceful isolation.

I have found myself drawn for some time to this idea of there being nobility in existing in the demanding conditions of high desert, or in mountains overlooking the sea, hundreds of feet of vertical cliff side at your feet, with the horizon calling and only your self control between life and l’appel du vide. To put an even finer point on it, the starkness of each environment is what draws me in. To see how difficult life is to live enhances its beauty.

Blue stripes, white trousers

Alas, I am no great outdoorsman, and although I have a deep philosophical and aesthetic appreciation of those environments, I have no delusion of being able to survive there myself without a great deal of support and general creature comforts. Given these unfortunate constraints, I am most likely to seek experiences on the other end of the spectrum. Experiences which give the sense that one has perfected the art of living well, where every possibility has been anticipated and provided for.

In a strange way, this sense of knowing what it is to live well evokes the same appreciation for life’s grandeur that the stark, demanding environments do. The art of living well seems to fly in the very face of nihilism. It feels to me like an admission.. yes, we are aware that this matters naught at all, and still, we carry on. If nothing matters, the only thing that matters is the thing I decide does, and at this moment, the perfect cup of tea is all that matters.

A moment of reflection

Strangely, this relates to these images, believe it or not. 2020 has been a strange year for humanity, exposing cracks that have ever lingered just beneath the facade of civilized society, laying bare the inequities of the age, forcing distance and discontent, and yet - here I am, interested in dressing and building narratives to share online in lieu of the face to face interaction we all crave. Certainly there are more important things to dedicate energy towards, and yet.. here we are.

The environment I believe to best suit this idealized version of myself is in fact the fictional New England coastal town for which Nantucket will have to serve as a stand in. Were that I were in resplendent isolation in Nantucket, having perfected the art of living well, wearing summer whites and drinking a delicate Morey-Saint-Denis La Rue de Vergy and contemplating at what time to draw my bath post supper.

A look at the shoes

To master the art of living well, to be able to create space for those for whom such aim represents life’s greatest achievement - that is the goal. To live well, to live with dignity, and to enable others to do the same; that is why we are here today, and why I write to you. Perhaps the best we can do with the gift of life is to live it to the fullest.

Again I disagree in the strongest possible terms with the trivialization of the clothes you choose to wear, the food you choose to eat, or the wine you choose to drink. God is in the details! The best you can afford.. the best, period!