May 2, 2018

Mostly cloudy, 60 Degrees, Southwest Winds at 5 ā€“ 10 mph.

The continuing saga of my back injury well–continues. I took a heavy dose of pain killers and muscle relaxers at bedtime, hoping to sleep well into the night. Instead, I was awakened by the pain in my left hip at 1:00 am. Much too early for more pain medicine. I got out of bed and went to sit on the couch for a while, thinking I might find a position that didn’t hurt too badly.

It took a while, but the pain diminished enough that I was getting drowsy. I was afraid I might hurt my back further by sleeping upright, so I went back to bed and, to my amazement, I was able to find a position where the pain was diminished enough that I could sleep.

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This is just a small sampling of many very nice photos of the Magnolia blooms.

I awoke several more times during the night with the pain, but each time was able to twist and turn until I found a less painful position and sleep again. In this way, I was able to have a fairly good night’s sleep.

Out of bed this morning, the pain is not much diminished from yesterday. It still hurts like heck to walk at all. Moving around is very difficult, but sitting still is more comfortable.

I feel less overwhelmed with the pain today than I did yesterday. I would love to finish the painting in the living room and have even considered doing some painting, but the truth is that the pain is too severe to stand or move around much. Maybe tomorrow. I just can’t stand to leave the work unfinished.

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I think this one is lovely.

The rest of my life has been at a standstill and remains so. I haven’t walked outside in days. I haven’t taken pictures except for the one evening and I haven’t even looked at those photographs yet. My guitar sits un-played in my music room. It’s calling out to me. I would love to indulge in the simple pleasure of playing a few chords and listening to the beautiful sound. But that’s not gonna happen today or for a few days yet I would guess.

Spring is in full force outside. Low temperatures have been around sixty, so we have the windows open at night for the first time since maybe October. It’s a big event for someone who’s been shut in for so long. I am imagining what it will be like to walk through the soft, mild air outside without a coat or hat and gloves. It sounds wonderful. I can’t wait.

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The Magnolia is pretty much in full bloom now. The blooms look lovely, though not quite as pretty against today’s gray skies. I hope I can get a few shots of the blooms before they fall to the ground. They will last only a few days at most, so it had better be soon. This is a landmark I don’t want to miss recording.

This enforced pause is at least giving me an appreciation for what I am missing. The simple pleasure of walking outside seems impossibly sweet from my spot here on the couch. Jamie is lying here beside me, pressed up against my leg. If I get up, he will spring to his feet and run toward the door.

Yesterday, as I left for the Urgent Care office, he pranced hopefully to the gate, staring me in the eye, hoping we were going for a walk. It hated to tell him no, and leave him there in the back yard while I went. I know he will be the same today, but our back yard is quite nice and he will enjoy the day, though not as much as he enjoys our walks.

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It occurs to me what a sweet ritual it is for him and I, doing these walks every day. Every day, he anticipates our walk with the same fervor, winding himself up to fever pitch as I put on my coat, his collar, his leash, and finally head out the door. He runs right to the gate and stares into my eyes with every ounce of his will directing me to take him out. When I finally snap the leash to his collar, only then is he sure that he will be coming with me.

And then we’re off, walking down the drive with him out front, trying not to pull at the leash despite his excitement. With a gesture from me, he knows to turn left at the sidewalk and head down the block. And the ritual has begun. We’re on our way. He will race ahead a bit wildly, stopping to sniff where other dogs have been, perhaps peeing on a tree or two as we make our way. He’s so excited on the way out that I make little effort to contain his enthusiasm. It would be unfair to him. He’s just excited to live and who can fault him for that.

He needs and wants these walks with such fervor that it’s absolutely charming. If he wants to walk, then there’s no way I can resist his desire.

But it will not be today. He’ll have to settle for the yard while I recuperate another day. Maybe tomorrow. We will see.

The Project

This pause is also making me thankful for having begun this project. I’ve often been thankful, sometimes a bit overwhelmed and drained, but ultimately very thankful for this effort. Going out of the house every single day with camera in hand, looking for the beauty in the world around me has been wonderful. I am so engaged in what is happening outside.

I am observing so closely all of the little changes from day to day. I am seeing what I would never have seen were I not doing this. By now, I am seeing how much has changed since I began at the end of January. I look at my landing page photo and I see not only the snow on the ground, but the fact that the sun is low in the sky and much farther to the South than it now is. I can feel the sweep of a year taking shape and that’s not something that one fully appreciates without the length and depth of this effort.

I am feeling that what I will have at the end of this year is something really worthwhile. Not just the pictures, or even the writing, but the process of having been deeply present for an entire year. Our lives slip by so quickly and so little noticed, and this project will have helped me to fully apprehend at least one year of my remaining life. That’s a precious thing indeed.

I’m also very pleased with what this process is doing for my creative life. I am back alive again as a creator, as a photographer. My eyes are always searching, my mind engaged in thinking and feeling about the passing year, about the beauty of the ordinary every day life I lead. I think about the beauty of the trees, the clouds, the tiny buds and flowers and powerful bark and tree trunks and they are acquiring the power of a real work of art for me.

The entire year will be a work of art of a sort. Perhaps especially when I come to review the year, try to edit and put together some kind of book or exhibit or something that sums it all up. I am already looking forward to that.

My cameras are becoming extensions of myself as well, which is really nice. When I started this project I had barely touched a camera in a few years. I could barely remember how to use them or find where all my equipment was. It took me a couple of days just to get the cameras out to take with me on the walk.

Now, I never consider leaving without them. When I pick up a camera, I know immediately where all of the controls are. I know the quickest way to change settings for different purposes. I know what lenses to take and when I will use them. There is a real satisfaction in mastering my craft as a photographer.

I am also looking forward to exhibiting again. I mean maybe putting together a real exhibit of this year’s project. As the year progresses, I’ll start planning and submitting proposals for exhibits. I’ll save my pennies to pay for mounting and maybe even framing. I want to continue what I have started by getting the results out into the world and sharing my experience with others in person.

I’ll probably also submit one or more portfolios of work to LensWork magazine. I loved my experience of doing that before and I’d like to reach a wide audience. I know that I will want to have put together a book before doing that so I can market it with the publicity that comes from getting published.

Anyway, big thoughts, big ideas, big plans, great satisfaction. What more could I ask for? I love to be in this place, in the midst of a big new idea, a big project. A few years ago I was learning to weld and shape metal, how to build a motorcycle, and I was as excited then as I am now.

But this is a much more accessible project for me. It’s right in my wheelhouse. I think photography is the most natural art form for me. I was a painter for most of my artistic life, and I loved doing it and made some nice work, but photography is more natural to me.

Painting was always difficult, if satisfying. It was patently painful if I am honest. The gap between imagination and accomplishment could be punishing. It required daily starting over and trying over and over and over. Photography has little if any of that kind of pain, at least for me. I just look around me, see things that intrigue me, and use my camera to frame and capture that thing. It sounds so simple, and it is on one level.

It can be difficult too, trying to find something with enough depth and power to be worthwhile, trying find the way to express what you feel about something you’re seeing, but it’s nowhere near as painful as painting.

I could go on and on here. I’m rambling because my mind is not clear with the pain and the medications. Maybe I will return to the subject of painting versus photography another time. It’s an interesting subject. They are so different and I think the differences might be instructive to consider. But today is not the day to do that. Maybe later.

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