Yesterday was my birthday and it was a good one. I’m 44 years old. I didn’t do anything outrageous to celebrate. I printed in my darkroom and spoke to my family. I was able to share other people’s joy at my living. I thanked the people on Facebook who wished me a happy birthday. I put some other stuff up on ebay. I bought a four pack of reading glasses and a big jar of fish oil pills. I made pizza for dinner. I puttered.
As I was taking my daughter up to bed she said “I don’t want you to be older.” I asked her if it was because she was afraid I was going to die. She said yes. I told her that it was normal to feel that way. I said if we both take care of our health, we should be okay for a while. Whatever I say to a child usually is what I need to hear also. Usually, it’s more about denying the existence of Bigfoot.
The truth is I’m afraid to die too. There is another truth hiding underneath that: I’m afraid to live. My greatest fear is I’m going to die and there is no God. Some atheists would say “Guess what, that’s not so scary.” They would be right. Live well today and leave the rest to the universe.
So, fear of death stands in the way of living. It also proves that I am human and alive.
I see people slavishly climbing some invisible ladder and wonder “what’s the point to all that egocentric ambition?”. I waste time judging them. Maybe, just maybe, everyone is just trying to get along as well as they can. Maybe I should include myself in that category too. Maybe I should get on with the business of living my life according the principles that work for me. Perhaps the process of overcoming fears and doing what you love to do imperfectly looks self-indulgent when viewed through the lens of fear. Maybe I’m just sitting on the sidelines feeling jealous of all the people playing in the mud.
I make mistakes, I have successes. I have fears about living and I have fears about dying. I’m told that is a pretty solid criteria for being human.
One of the things I realized, while lying in bed worrying about my own mortality (read: thinking about myself), is that most old people can’t sleep well and they are getting up at all hours of the night. I can put myself (slightly) in that category. So, instead of lying in bed not sleeping, I got up, fed the fire, made coffee and started typing.
Not bad. Look at me.
What kept me up?
I’m thinking about Fotofest and how unprepared I feel. I have a great body of work that I’m proud of but I realize just how much work it takes to make the work. So, today, I’m going to print more images. I’m going to give them the proper amount of time to be made. I will have faith that there is enough time to get them done before I ship off to Houston.
The great thing about platinum printing (or any process) is the chance it gives to find solutions. It takes time. Sometimes, when something doesn’t come out right, but I don’t want to spend the time trying to fix it, I just plow ahead and convince myself that it is good enough. So far, that hasn’t worked for me.
I also spent some time deleting emails from my inbox. That feels good. It’s nice to get little emails but it is also nice to get rid of them too. I hold on to things too much. There it is! All the spiritual reading I have participated in suggests I “let go” and yet here I am, holding on to things that don’t matter.
My inbox is a small reflection of my life. Being unwilling to decide what is important makes everything important and ultimately a burden that stands in the way of any kind of productive life.
So, today, I will be more mindful and willing. Right now, I will get some coffee.