Published 11:39 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Tracy K. Hall
What do you see out your window? No really, stop and linger, what is out there? What do you see on your way to work? When you go to the grocery store and walk into the produce department do you notice all the shapes, colors and textures? When the sun welcomes you to another day or when it bids you a good night, can you see its passion? Every day. Every day we have opportunities to see. How often do you take full advantage of this fact? Truth is, us humans tend to get used to something, maybe even lose gratitude and feel entitled to it. Remember your brand-new car? Does it still thrill you to get into it? That little black dress, which is still a staple in your wardrobe, does it still take your breath away? When lightening bugs show up announcing the coming of summer, does your breath still catch and do you still exclaim with pointed finger, “Lightning Bug!” That new shotgun, do you still run your hands over its barrels, woods, metals and carvings because it is a work of art? Maybe you do, or maybe you need to see it through someone else’s eyes.
Thomas Weber is your go to guy. You want new eyes? You want to see the magic? You want to experience something anew? Then absolutely, Thomas Weber is your guy. Thomas’ mom was born and raised in the great City of Americus. She married a military man and they moved to the base in Warner Robins. Thomas says, “This was the family seat, Americus was, this is where we came home.” Although living a military lifestyle, he would find himself landing in Americus for summers to be spent with his cousins, who also currently live here. During the middle of his high school senior year, he hitchhiked to Americus and graduated in 1990 from Americus High School. He would find his rest with his aunt as he completed his education. Then Thomas’ feet found wings and he set off for grand adventures. However, Americus, being the family seat, called wanting her Thomas back. Thomas is not one to ignore the call our of little village. Looking at celebrating his 50th birthday, he refers to his younger self as a “satellite around Americus” but he was craving some roots and Americus offered the sweetest soil. As Thomas puts it, “I want to put some roots down, I want to embrace this town. Because my entire life, at every chapter stop when I needed a restart, Americus has always been that place. The community here—so supportive, all the longtime family and friends I have in this town, it’s always been the place to come home to.” Sold out. Thomas sold out to Americus and a love affair which so many of us recognize began to grow between Thomas and the city.
As many of us do at the half century mark, he took inventory. “What better way to spend the rest of it (his life) than to give back to the community I find to be so special?” Thomas remarks occasionally he will run across someone who wants to leave Americus or complains about her. His response is simple, “You get what you put into it.” Thomas has done a full dive into putting his time and efforts in our home.
He has a very unique and creative way in which to do so. As you are scrolling through Facebook, every once in a while, there will be an image which will make you think, “Wow, that looks like, hold on, it is Americus!” And bam, in front of you is Thomas’ work. He is a photographer. He is a dreamer. He is delightfully and wonderfully weird in a way you hope to be. Thomas takes what is in front of all of us, and through his eyes there is a brand-new view. He has photographed things as simple as cross walk lights to things as grand as the Windsor Hotel. He looks at Gatewood’s Flower Shop and sees Audrey II, the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. While Leon Holloway can deliver on many a promise, to deliver Audrey II is something even our precious Leon would have to think about. However, Thomas doesn’t. And here is Thomas’ gift to you, “The photos I take of Americus I would like to be the property of Americus. I want the citizens of Americus to be able to use them, however they see fit.”
Thomas is going to call you friend. He might not have ever seen your face, or even know your name, but he is going to literally call you friend. It will immediately let you exhale. It is but the first signal that Thomas is a delightful weirdo and that you are going to absolutely love him. Americus is his friend, and he is protective and loyal towards her. “I think the community here, especially the long-standing members of the community, they realize what a jewel it is. So, they prefer that others in the community also realize this.” Thomas loans out his eyes to others who see the sparkle on the jewel that is Americus, as well as those who don’t. While locals offer their adoration over Thomas’ offerings, he reports some of our residents who have moved remark, “You have reminded me of what makes Americus so special.”
Words like “wistful” and “imaginative” are a prerequisite to seeing Americus as Thomas does. He realizes life can rob us of those precious commodities and he goes about recovering what has been lost for us. It is what a friend does. So how does he do it? He keeps his cell phone in his pocket. He is ever mindful something worthy might present itself at any moment. Thomas also walks a lot. He gets to see our world at a slower pace. He is intentional about absorbing what is around us. He does a regular inventory of himself to recognize what is harmful and what is lifegiving. He is a man unafraid to use his eyes on himself. And he practices weirdness. He is not a man enslaved. If Thomas is going to star in Wizard of Oz, you’re going to find him on the dreamy color side of the film, making plenty of friends along the path.
New eyes. Thomas will let you borrow his, but he would encourage you to find your own as well. God shows himself in everything and everyone. Little snapshots of God, telling you something about him everywhere you look. For that reason alone, it is worth getting your own eyes. You don’t want to miss the wonderfully weird and fascinating which surrounds you every day. Such eyes have the potential to change everything. Absolutely everything.