San Francisco through the raindrops on the window of the Top of the Mark. Hard to believe it was a couple months ago. To my right, eating dinner, was Robert Duval. Today it expresses my mood.
At the risk of popping bubbles, the truth about my condition right now has been revealed only partly in good-humored tweets and blog posts about the great adventure of life, etc.etc. I’m grateful that people see that side of me, and I think overall I am coping with things well. But every comment that comes in has a sting on the back-end because the whole story can’t be told in tweets and soundbites.
The fuller truth is that much of the time this does not feel like part of a bigger story, it does not feel like an adventure. What it feels like is constant un-abating discomfort in better moments, and excruciating pain in others. It feels, from this tiny point in time, like a sentence that will never end. I can do literally nothing on my own, including roll over in the bed. The great accomplishments of my day include basic body functions and staying lucid long enough to get a blog post done, or a small piece of the next book edited. The nights are the worst. They last forever and have an unending lonely feeling about them. I cry myself to sleep, when I sleep at all.
It is easy to talk about living a life that leans into fear and risk in order to “live the dream” or whatever platitude we’ve attached to what it means to live fully. It is much harder to live through the darker moments life extracts from us as payment for the stories we will one day tell our kids, and the things we believe give our lives purpose. It’s the same way with art. The best of it takes work and self-examination and wading though fear and insecurity to get there. It, too, is scary and lonely at times.
Why am I writing this? Two reasons. First to state the obvious – things might be light around here awhile as I take some time off to wade through this. The second is merely to be more fully honest about it. This was not an easy post to write. Aside from talking about how hard photography can be, I am generally an upbeat and positive person. But lest anyone put me on a pedestal, right here and now it feels like I’d trade this pain and difficulty for a slightly easier story. Years later this will be part of the story that makes me who I become. These things will affect my work; they will create a new place from which I create my art. But right now it just hurts. Bravery and humor is easy to sustain for 140 characters on Twitter. In real life it seems to be much, much harder. Would I really change anything? Not at all, but if I’ve ever made this stuff sound easy, or as though it is within reach of only a special breed of people, I’ve wronged you. This is hard.
I’m learning, that’s for sure. I am learning that I am surrounded by amazing people; people (so, so many of you are those people) who think I am amazing, and what I wish I could do now is turn the mirror the other way, help them understand that they are the amazing ones – people whom I revere deeply for the size of their hearts. So forgive another meandering, emotional post, but authenticity is not a marketing strategy for me, it’s the heart of this community. The day I start faking it is the day I close shop.
As far as updates, I’m told I’m healing well and the team here is now talking about a transfer to Perth War Memorial Hospital here in Ontario. It’s closer to my parent’s home and I’ll spend about a month there. As soon as I am able, and a spot frees up, I’ll be moved to an inpatient rehab clinic, for who knows how long. A couple weeks? A month?
So again, my deepest thanks. Forgive me if I’m quieter than usual. Some days it takes too much energy to maintain the optimism and as I’ve previously been told my angst is exhausting, I’m wary of wearing you down with too much navel gazing. 🙂