“Where my soul is fully alive”: Wisdom from Harold on his 88th birthday

From a Harold Feinstein photography workshop, September 29, 1999,  Arlington, MA 

“I’m making a resolution for the time I have left to be where my soul is fully alive.

Harold would be 88 today, April 17th, 2019.  He left his body, but his soul lives on. At least, so I believe and so did he. And the desire to listen to the directives of his soul while he was  alive was a profound intention that shaped his life, his work and his way of being. It also touched the lives of all who knew him. He was the first to admit that this was not always perceived as practical, nor was it easy, but the aspiration to be on that path was the most passionate conviction he carried throughout his life.  This soul-listening  was, for him, at the very heart of creative process. Whatever it is that inspires you — that is your soul speaking with you.  And following that is the key to fulfillment in life, and your greatest contribution to the world — even it if means swimming again the streams of conventionality and conformity. It was not only his message, it was something he embodied. As his friend and former student David Caras said in the documentary Last Stop Coney Island: The Life and Photography of Harold Feinstein, when describing Harold’s impact on his students:

“Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road…he WAS the yellow brick road.”

Harold Feinstein, 1996, © Judith Thompson

In honoring this anniversary of his birth 88 yeas ago, I chose the short clip above from among the many hours of audio-visual and written materials we’ve begun combing through in the studio. His encouragement to move to the place where our soul is fully alive will remain forever true and relevant in our lives now and throughout time — just one of the many gifts of his being. Happy birthday dear Harold…and thank you for the wisdom so generously shared. Everyday I miss you. Everyday I am learning more and more from you.


“There’s a phrase — ‘Remember to remember’. Because most of the time we forget. And what is it that we need to remember?  The place from whence we came. There’s a profound disappointment that we feel because inwardly in our soul of  souls, we remember this place and we remember the journey that we’re on…that we undertook. And so there’s a profound disappointment in day to day situations that tend to be distractions because we’re taught to be distracted — distracted from the pathway of our soul…replacing our inner journey with the journey that was laid down for us….We have to accept responsibility for the path that we take — not in terms of punishment or shame, or even embarrassment or sorrow, but moreso as an opportunity — as a light that reminds us that in fact we are creating each moment, each day, each year of our lives, and that it is in our hands. We’re so wary of the consequences of what would occur if we tend to move in the direction that our heart calls us. Yet every day we’re facing the consequences of not moving in that direction…I’ve made a resolution that whatever time I have in this life I want it to be where my soul is fully alive.”

from a Harold Feinstein photography workshop, September 29, 1999, Arlington, MA.