As I continue dumping old, and not up to snuff images that occupy my computers overflowing hard drive. I’ve come to a indisputable conclusion that, being on, or close to the water, brings the best out of me. Regardless on whether it’s the beach, the boardwalk, a fountain, or a good old fire hydrant. Water has a calming quality that gives me the chance to relax, and free my mind of any troubles or distractions. As I continue to better understand what makes me tick. I’ve come to realize that I, myself, and countless others greatly benefit from its energy and the calm it often brings. In observing my own behavioral patterns. I find that putting myself in that environment makes me a better person and a better photographer.
Dedicated to a Better Life, and Better Photos.
Tuesday, February 7th, marked the sixth week I’ve been attending physical therapy in Washington, DC. When first recommended by my primary doctor and the specialists at Rochester, Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic. I strongly disagreed, referring to my already unyielding dedication to working out, the gym, and nutrition. Despite my skepticism and experience with past sessions where they put you on a bike and walked away. Like a good patient. I agreed to at least look into it. With due diligence, I found a highly rated/recommended place in nearby Washington, DC. My “What can they possibly do for me.” mantra went out the door during my first session. My therapist (Feeke) has been by my side, adding new and rewarding challenges each week. All of which I’ve applied to my daily routine at my condo’s gym. Since being diagnosed in 2017, I’ve had my share of challenges. All of which I’ve taken on like the stubborn son of a bitch I’ve always been. Whether it be my dedication to my workouts, meditation, tai-chi, or eating habits. Despite any challenges or disabilities. I feel as if I’m in the best shape of my life. I took the picture below in DC at about 7:43 am. The image reminded me that, no matter what, if you want to achieve anything. You have to put in the work.
When thinking of photography and whatever approach I might decide to take in the near future. Much like life itself, I can’t help but think of minimalism. What that actually means? I’m not sure, but living out of a suitcase over the past months with a single camera body and a 50 millimeter lens has been difficult yet educating. Moving to Arlington, I’ve found a renewed interest in photography and documenting my new surroundings. With my newfound interest has come a desire to approach each picture with a new sense of purpose and focus. Asking myself, what attracted me to this image and what message, if any, do I wish to convey? As much as I’ve alway been to telephone lines and cell phone towers. I can’t help but think, with all these connections and gigabytes, we seem to be communicating less. Sure, we talk a lot. But, are we listening?
Every weekend my wife and me try to get out of the everyday stress of the work environment and whatever stress the work week and it’s related trappings. No matter the city we called home, there was always an outlet or a route worth taking. One that would allow us to expand our minds and realign our focus. Having grown up and lived in the boroughs of New York City and lived much of my married life in New Jersey, there was always somewhere to go and something to do. Moving to, and living in Seattle for four years provided more than its share of exploration and mind expanding experiences. With only a few months back east in Virginia. There’s still so much to do. Lucky for us, that desire to explore and experience new things still burns. As many days of exploring Virginia and Washington, DC lie ahead. The several trips to Maryland have been rewarding. I took this image of the Patapasco River in the midday sun with the only equipment I have with me now, my Canon body and 50 mm lens. While I’m looking forward to being reunited with all my lenses, filters and flash, shooting with the bare minimum has been a fulfilling challenge. Here’s to more weekend challenges, exploration and of course, documentation.
Routines and Rituals
With a move just a day away and an exhausting week of packing almost done, I hope to move forward with my energy and purpose. Our new home offers many windows of opportunity to put forth. Or, at the very least, supplement the ideas and plans I’ve been looking to add, subtract, or continue as we’ve made it a habit to visit the condo since our closing day regularly, sometimes to bring essentials, others to measure or plan. It never goes without notice how an empty room allows for boundless thoughts, ideas, and creativity. Below is a shortlist of actions and undertakings I plan on implementing or continuing.
Tai-chi – What a great way to start the day? In with the good and our with the bad.
Minimalism – This has been an obsession of mine for some time. Packing for the move has been a revelation—a back-breaking reminder of everything I had to have.
Meditation – Since I was in grammar school, I’ve relied on meditation for long periods, often interrupted by being too busy with complete nonsense. Considering how beneficial the results have always been, I often find myself scratching my head as to why I ever stop. Whether it be stress, anxiety, overthinking, breathing, or just clearing the mind, five minutes to a half-hour of meditation does more than any pill or time with a therapist has ever done for me.
A Visit to North Tower
After wondering for days whether the fob for the south tower worked in the north tower, I took a walk around the corner to find out for sure. When my keychain hit the spot, a beeping sound automatically opened the doors as if the heavens were welcoming me with open arms. Seeing the Space Needle up close for the first time since we first arrived in Seattle felt all warm and fuzzy. Watching the sunset and the sky turn orange is just about the most effective stress reducer around, as I’ve already taken more than enough pictures. I hope to use the space and calm to practice meditating and tai-chi. For now, I’ll feed my addiction and take/share photos.
The Road Ahead
Somewhere between awareness of my symptoms and diagnosing them came knowledge and acceptance that things might get a lot worse before they ever or never get better. While a pretty hard pill to swallow, (No pun intended.) I feel lucky that I have such a fantastic support system in my wife, family, friends, and doctors. However, there is one thing in particular that has become harder and harder to accept as time goes by. That is, people always checking in on me and asking how I’m doing. Arguing with and fighting over her being too helpful or over-attentive. As time goes by, I feel myself becoming more resistant to help, while closing myself off to others. I also notice that it doesn’t take much to light my fuse or lose my temper. Whether it be snap reactions or just getting angry over things I can’t control, I’ve come to fear of becoming a cranky old son of a bitch than an optimistic one. As I move towards a new year and a new decade, I hope to move forward by taking somewhat of a step back to the practices I approached and learned from in the past. Simple things, such as meditation, breathing techniques, eating, and exercise, could all help while bringing improvements to my attitude, as well as my life. Hopefully, these little things can help in bringing me the peace of mind and mindfulness I so desperately seek.
Here Comes the Sun
I spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of pictures I’d like to take. As someone who became interested in taking pictures in his teens, but didn’t own an SLR until his mid twenties. While debatable, I’d say photography has become the greatest passion in my life. As someone who made his name as a music photographer, built a strong portfolio as a studio photographer and worked continuously on a project called “Left Behind”. I feel that I’m always dedicating whatever spare time I have to learning, testing and putting new projects to work. It wouldn’t be overstating if I said it was. While my time on the East Coast offered an abundance of beautiful sunsets. Living in Seattle, an area with many lakes, bays and waterways at every turn. I have long imagined myself waking up in the early hours and driving to a spot where I can watch the sun rise.
The Sun Sets in the West
As far as good intentions go, Friday morning’s eary trip to the docks on Harbor Avenue to watch the sunrise were as good as they come. It can’t go without saying that waking up and standing by Elliot Bay waiting for the first signs of the sun in freezing weather kind of wrecked us for the rest of day. Still, crossing something off your list definitely has it benefits and rewards. Energized by a day of napping and sampling a wide array of Thanksgiving leftovers. We were recharged enough to endure a two hour trip for hearty plates of pancakes, eggs and delicious biscuits. Fairhaven, Washington seemed the perfect destination. Though we didn’t pick a place the night before. Finding a parking spot right in front of a local eatery worked perfectly for two hungry souls who had driven two hours on empty stomachs. Though Fairhaven’s downtown is quite small. There’s enough shops and goings on to keep people entertained and making frequent returns. By the time we finished eating and walking it off, it was time to hit the road again. As usual, the sun began to set and we pulled over a few times to enjoy what is for me, a perfect time to breath and reflect on just how good things can be if you let them. Aside from almost falling in a ditch and running into oncoming traffic, I’d say I did pretty damn good.
Leave a Positive Footprint
If you let it, life can teach you a lot of things. Some of the most important things I learned were about empathy and how much of the happiness we enjoy comes from helping others. No one is perfect and we all carry scars we often wear for all to see. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as you learn and grow from them. I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t made a few. Even the strongest take a beating every now and then. I know this from my own experience.
I learned to defend myself and fight at a very young age and with all the broken noses and black eyes I delivered as a kid, It was the first beating I took, that stands out the most. I’ve had my share of battles outside of the schoolyards and streets. We all have. What’s most important is that we never give up or settle. In the end, it’s how we treated others. If there ever comes a time when we’ll be judged or remembered. It will most likely hinge on how we overcame life’s obstacles and how we treated others. In the end, I hope to leave a positive footprint on those I have encountered.