Often, in the middle of the night, as a child of seven or eight, I'd knock on my elder sister's bedroom door. Entering her room, in order to wake her up from her sleep, so that she could repeatedly hit me on my back to bring up the fluid which was settling on my lungs. The more times I'd wake her, that night, the more firmer and determined her attentions would be to her duties, I remember; and the more guilt ridden I'd feel about denying her her sleep.
I'd return back to my own room, at two or three in the morning sometimes, and stay awake just listening to the night reveal itself in the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and the sounds of cars in the night that would fade to reveal the insect-like hum of electricity that's heard only at night, when the day falls silent.
We take breathing for granted - until we can't. Until you have to fight and focus, with all your effort and concentration, on each and every solitary breath - all of the time knowing that your lungs are slowly filling with fluid once more and that you're going to have to wake your sister up again from her sleep - when you just want to let her rest.
All the time pondering upon the complexities of your own mortality when a young mind should be elsewhere.
We're all made somewhere off in the past, works in progress, we hope, yearning to be completed somewhere in the future. Whilst secretly fearing, of course, that we never shall. 'Show me the child of seven and I will show you the man" some of you are thinking but I'm not a Jesuit.
So I'm moving on.
That past remains now only in small square instamatic photographs and fading Polaroids of family, friends and Prince our dog. Photographs of strangely clad people, in a house that doesn't exist any more, with happy smiles, that hid lies, and yet which grow in potency, as bodies fail and as my grip, upon those framed within, loosens and becomes more tenuous with time.
"But people just come and go...and no one says goodbye...but [I guess] people are free to come and go as they please."
Yes, all hail time, that changer of context and provider of new meaning - if only via nostalgia.
Nostalgia apparently, literally means "the pain from an old wound" in Greek. Yes, I too am a fan of Mad Men, and yes, Don Draper used that line to sell Kodak's Carousel on The show. Yes, again, Teddy told him that.
I've watched every episode of Mad Men, including the last one, (I guess it is the real thing) in the wee small hours of this Monday Morning. There won't be any need for spoiler alerts here - but let's just say that everything comes to an end.
We all find our own ways to heal those wounds which nostalgia and the journey into the past inflicts upon us of course. Don Draper thought he could heal his by accidentally killing his commanding officer in Korea and then assuming his identity - we've all been there, right, OK, I'll get my coat. But I think that we all have, in some way, or do, find ways to change ourselves to bury a past, if not the past.
To reinvent, rebrand, reboot.
We loose weight, get fit, learn a new skill, better ourselves; whilst all of the time trying to separate ourselves from that person in the past or what we've done, or been, whilst preparing ourselves for who we want to be in the future. Running with all of our might and yet never truly being able to hide as we'll always see ourselves framed within the mirror of who we were or what we've done.
Even Don Draper...."but it get's easier as you move forward"....as he might say.
I imagine, as this website is designed to promote my work, that some people would think that this wasn't a space for introspection. Photographs are made within our minds and not, with or by cameras, so to all those who wonder why this post is on a blog about photography - well, if you have to ask you'll never know.
Well, anyway, as we wait patiently for the fridge door to open [watch the last episode] and as we age and sail further away from the shores of certainty, which the past once provided, we find ourselves all caught in the headlights of fate; not sure whether to jump back into the past and repeat ourselves or to take that leap of faith and hope that the future will carry us home to a place called contentment.
And, so, somewhere on the journey between who I thought I was and who I wanted to be I found myself to be the person who I am – here and now – trying, still, to learn the lines of a play that’s already half way through.
On this stage, glancing upwards at a twitching curtain, fearing that it will fall, before the end of the performance. Forlornly hoping for this play to stop so that I can say my lines all over again - better this time and with meaning - before it does.
So, here’s to the Jesuits, to pipe dreams, bolting horses and open stable doors. But also to love lost and to the path to contentment found somewhere on the road between who we all once were - and hope to be.
But more importantly, here’s to life, sustained as it is by each solitary breath and to yesterday and tomorrow, those two worlds which I call home.
*Thanks to the Mad Men quotes in quotation marks*