I am certain that one day I am going to walk right off the edge of a cliff. I have wanted to go shoot photographs for a week. It is the only thing that makes my head stop its rummaging around in all my crazy, pulling out all sorts of bits and bobs, demanding I tell it what they are immediately (this most often occurs at around 3am).
I have scientific evidence that photography is good for me – while hooked up to a Neurofeedback machine my brain did excellent things when I thought about taking photos. Calming things, uncrazy things.
The downside (pun intended) is that I get so lost in it that I’ve a tendency to forget that I am on the edge of a rather steep gorge.
Thank you for reading my words and looking at my pictures. I am gradually filling up my blog. If you like my work I have much more at my Instagram account @onethousandwordsorless
More than once of late I have wondered how it is that I am still here. I am not prone to exaggeration so believe me when I tell you that a series of storms tore through my life and left nothing but wrack and ruin. I would like to tell you a story of redemption, courage, unbreakable spirit. Alas, that is the stuff of one hour episodes, 8mm reels digested in two hours or less – stories tied in bows that allow us to skip away comforted by the fact that everything happens for a reason and it is all for the best really.
Reality is not literature. I do not know why these things happened and the compression of them in to a neatly tied package that I can point to and say “Ah so THAT is why” removes the reverence that must be held for what has been lost. What I do know is that I have learned a thing or two. I learned that I had sown my existence on rocks and thorns. I learned that I know nothing about anything with any certainty that stands up under a strong wind, and that hope is a slippery sliver of moon that can be annihilated.
My hope has occasionally been reclaimed in one thought: something has moved through my life with intention, and there is a fifty-fifty possibility that the thing is benevolent. Someone said to me yesterday that sometimes all that is left is to admit defeat. I have always been a brawler, when life knocks me down I stand back up, fists raised. And so, if I was ever to learn to surrender it all had to be torn down. I have been left with no other option but to bow my head and acknowledge that I am not in control and lack the strength to combat this force.
I sit among the ruins of this life, sifting through the rubble, holding things up to the light, inspecting their value and usefulness, determining whether they can withstand colliding storm fronts. I am seeking new foundations, things that will not bend or break under the most trying of conditions. Most is thrown to the wind, useless. Humility is all that has made the cut.
I have been learning how to feel my feelings. Apparently I’m not very good at it. I am assured it will be for the best, though remain unconvinced. For a start, I am assuming it was with good reason that my brain shoved them in the bottom draw with the abandoned single socks (whose partners ran off and left them without a word of explanation). Also, I seem to have only two major feelings that boss the others around with wild abandon – all puffed up and insistent on their right to exist – anger and sadness.
I am willing to concede that they have proven useful at times. Such as when I am angry. To my astonishment I have found that the honest expression of my feelings has been quite freeing. Though I’ve noted that the target of my fury often doesn’t appear to be quite as enchanted by the experience as I am.
Or when watching a sunrise while accompanied by a beautiful melancholy. They sit side by side so well, the sadness nestled into the rising golden light. The sunrise all the more significant when bathed in a touch of sorrow. A sense of softness that comes from allowing my heart to feel what it feels without judgment, melting away the night.
“… she told me she’d never adjusted to the light, she’d just never developed a tolerance for the world, her inoculation hadn’t taken.” ~ Miriam Toews, All My Puny Sorrows
Some friends and I have started a Bookckub. This is our first book, I chose it for the title. It is about two sisters, one struggling for life while the younger struggles with letting her go. Mental health, death, that intimate back and forth that only siblings have, inappropriate humour in darkness.
I have lost faith in a lot of things this past year … this book and it’s themes feel like they are no mistake. Some faith in something larger than myself is restored by the sense that the appearance of this book in my life is not merely a serendipitous turn of events. It is, as it turns out, a magnificent read.
My father is 74 years old and has become a bit of an internet sensation. And rightly so, for he is currently riding a pushbike from Freemantle, Western Australia to Sydney via Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road in an unsupported ultra road race called the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. A 5,500km odyssey to test even the youngest and fittest bucks.
To give my international friends some context that’s the equivalent of pedaling your way from somewhere offshore in the Bay of Biscal, across France, to somewhere in the Black Sea past Romania – via Bosnia, Macedonia AND Bulgaria. OR, roughly 2000 kilometres more than the Tour de France. He camps on the open arid plains, picks up meat pies for nutrition along the way (and a chocolate milk for the daily halfway mark) and rolls on. You can follow him on Facebook at Back Road Bicycle Adventures. This is my interpretation of one of his many photographs from the ride.
I told a friend about it yesterday and he replied “That’s mental”. After a few moments staring in to space, envisioning the feat, he said, “like fully PROPER mental”. You would probably agree, but I know better. I know he is out there with my sister. She is in his heart and if he closes his eyes she is there next to him. They rode together, she is from where the wild things are. She lives now in the rustle of breeze through trees, the warmth of the sun on your face, mountain views, star filled silent night skies, in streams and in waterfalls. This is why I camp so often, climb hills, splash through lakes and fall into waterfalls. This is why a 74 year old man is riding his bike 5,500km around the bottom of this beautiful land. To have his daughter by his side again, the wind at their back as they ride in to the setting sun. If your daughter’s spirit lived on the open road, and for just a moment, death did not stand between you – wouldn’t you want to be out there too?
It is not mental, it is love.
Despite it all, I still believe in love … or perhaps because of it. I know the depths a human heart is capable of. Somewhere we know it can only ever end in loss. Not one of us gets out alive.
I would prefer to have things worthy of the pain than to shroud myself in the protection of fear – because the hurt is only ever an alternate expression of love that has lost a place to rest, a homelessness of the heart. At the end of my life I would like to be able to say that I loved well, that I loved deeply, despite knowing that ultimately it could only ever lead to pain. That, I suspect, would be a life worth living.
It is a work in progress.
I’ve lost my writing mojo. Having lived for so long in such an insular way – life throwing some doozies at me as it has – I have lost a sense of myself outside of this grief. And I am so tired of writing about that.
A friend and I chatted about this last week – the only other person I know who shares a similar loss. I asked him how I get outside it. How do I expand again? He told me he can’t recall when or how that happened for him. He just knows that one day he noticed that it had. And so I wait to exhale.
I hope that it comes soon. I miss my own company, I miss being present, I miss not feeling like there is something muting down the sound and experiences of life, I miss feeling connected to others. I miss a sense of being defined by so very much more. I miss joy.
That I am asking the questions is likely a sign that I am on the road back to all the things I miss, that I am forever changed is not disputable. As such, I’m not sure who it is that I am returning to but I do hope she has more expansive things to write about. Bigger thoughts, less self absorbed things to say.