A narrative with ones self

It seems as we approach the end of the year, we become more reflective and nostalgic. Having watched the leaves alter their shade of colour the passed several weeks, I sit at the kitchen table looking out through the open door and observe a single leaf depart from a twig upon the arrival of a sudden gust of wind. The leaf tumbles to the unseen currents of air in a dance, before reaching the ground, joining others already there. This sudden gust of wind that subsided just as fast as it came, also set into motion an orchestrated eruption of harmony when it touched upon the wind chimes, filling the empty spaces with a choral of song.

The arrival of winter as autumn passes
Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, California
Digital duo-tone photograph, December 27, 2005

In another six days we officially enter autumn. The pumpkins have already arrived at the markets and since last month stores have been displaying their Halloween merchandize. In the meantime California is in the midst of an Indian Summer with temperatures hovering above the nineties. Though this is my favorite time of year, I can do without the heat and so can the garden.

As the days become shorter, my thoughts resume their journey back to  these last six years, continuing a conversation with myself that started mid-July. A narrative dissecting the memory entrenched in the recesses of translucent layers that are forever shifting, analyzing an unknown future filled with imperfection of an impassioned hope.

I decided to rework the image ‘The arrival of winter as autumn passes’ to compliment the ‘Ancient One’. Though the photograph is part of a larger series, it is one I seem to identify with most. It keeps resurfacing whenever I think about the end of autumn, the beginning of December, or the end of the year. The image has become a link to my past and what would have been the last few days of my life.

Both photographs reflect metaphorically who I was or what I have physically become. The spirit is still another matter, as it has remained cloistered in silence like an unborn, left seeking a path to the self.

The Ancient One

Most of July and all of August have been weeks spent reflecting and being in a state of melancholy, with little sleep between the passing of one day and the arrival of another. As if storm clouds linger close by, ready to erupt at any moment into a torrent of challenges to blind my sense of direction. In the meantime September lies before me as an unknown terrain yet to be explored or its chapter written and while there are no guarantees; each day to which I rise, is a gift not to be spoiled and this is especially true, because the last six years have been a challenge.

After a two-month hospital stay in the spring of 2003, which required a subsequent four and a half year recovery, stage three cancer was discovered and appropriately dealt with. This was followed eighteen months later by a heart attack and thirty days afterwards was compounded by an unscheduled open-heart triple by-pass surgery in January 2006. Yet after all this, I remain standing, unsure if I would be able to face another major challenge.

Finding solace with the Ancient One
Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, California
Digital duo-tone photograph, December 7, 2007

No longer as resilient or defiant as before, I come to identify with the old tree I christened the ‘Ancient One’ when I first came upon it almost two years ago. At that time I felt an internal urge to return to an area with which I had identified during the period when I had my heart attack and the open-heart surgery. It was in those thirty days when a three-day period produced some of my most personal work. These images of fallen twigs, leaves and other fragments of nature gathering upon the ground under a soft rain, returning to earth in the cycle of ‘dust to dust’, were foreshadowing my own destiny. Had I not intervened two days prior of my scheduled death, much would have been left unfinished and unsaid. To this day I feel closest to these images then all my other photographs combined.

Since the day of my open-heart surgery when I cheated my demise unknowingly, it feels like Death is seeking revenge. Playing shenanigans with my mind and emotions in a game I know it will eventually win. But for now this tug of war continues indefinitely and like the ‘Ancient One’, I shall stand strong, despite feeling hollow at times. Though today I am a former self of the past, whose body now is scared and beginning to shows its age, I shall rise each day, contemplating upon creativity, and in doing so create art by which I shall be resurrecting my identity.

Postscript: When the time is right, I will share with you the images in which the heart and soul became one with the mind.