In Life Is Short, Pep Talks, Rants and Sermons, The Italian Incident by David59 Comments


This is a short note to long-time readers. It’s unedited and is, simply, a reflection and a thank you.

Four years ago on Easter weekend I fell off a wall in Italy and changed my life forever. That I lived at all is wonder enough, but that I now look back on the last 4 years as some of the best, if not among the hardest, of my life, tells me a lot about what it means to be human, to be happy, and to be truly alive.

I have learned to slow down.

I have learned to live in the moment and value, with every breath, the staggering beauty and astonishing brevity of life.

I have learned to love again, and more deeply, with more laughter, than I ever imagined, though that has more to do with the amazing woman I met the week before I fell, the same one that sat with me for 4 days in hospital in Pisa, and the same one with whom I’ve shared my life since the day I met her in Genoa.

I have learned that the adventure in life is not in getting what we desire, but in pursuing it.

I have learned to laugh more, take things less seriously, and to celebrate failure because it is a more faithful teacher than any other.

I have learned to be more humanly creative, to embrace the imperfect, to love the journey despite (perhaps because of) the uncertainty of the destination.

And I have learned to be deeply, deeply grateful. Gratitude remains the best painkiller in my life.

I’m writing this because from the moment I fell and word got out, the people that have come into my life by reading this blog and my other books, started coming out of the woodwork to encourage me on. They wrote letters, sent card and flowers, and told me their names. They – you – still do. And your presence in my life is very real, even for those of you I’ve not yet met in person.

And today I walked into my massage therapists office and told her that I feel the best I’ve felt in four years. There have been surgeries, and rehabs, I’ve learned to walk again 3 times now. And I didn’t help things much by putting an axe into my leg. And I’ve got severe post-traumatic arthritis in one ankle, and one day it’ll catch up with me, but you know what, I’m not running any marathons any time soon anyways. I now walk without a limp most days for the first time since the fall. Life feels a little closer to normal, though it’s a new normal. A better normal than I ever imagined. One filled with adventure, with less fear, and with a much greater sense of how much we’re all capable of because the spark in us burns much brighter than most of us know until it gets dark enough to see it for the beacon it is.  And that same spark that’s in me is in you, and if you doubt that it’s only because you haven’t had the chance for life to blow hard on the embers as things get dark. But it’s there. And it’s hotter and brighter than you know.

There’s probably a symbolism in the fact that I fell on Easter weekend, which is about new beginnings and new life, if it’s about anything – even at the most deeply spiritual, it’s about that – and I believe more now in every day resurrections and the power of light and love than ever before. We don’t usually get do-overs in life. You don’t get to hit rewind no matter how much you beg and plead. But we can make new starts, change directions, and bounce back from dark places. We can learn to walk again when all we believe we can do is crawl.

So I wanted you to know. I’m grateful. And for those of you with whom I was already on thin ice for all my poet-warrior stuff (just teach me how to make better photographs, duChemin!) I’m probably more intolerable now than I ever have been because now more than ever I believe in what we’re capable of if we’ll make the choice to do it. I believe that the beauty and brevity of life demand that we abandon this idea of spare time, and see every moment full of potential. There is no time left over. I believe it demands that we live intentionally and set the world ablaze. We can all live so much larger than we think, if we’ll abandon the smaller thinking.

So thank you.Truly. Deeply. Thank you.

You’ve helped me through these four years and given me a chance to do my art and give the world what I can.I hope in some way my work brings back to you some piece of the light you’ve given to me.

Everyone should be so lucky.


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  2. Such a wonderful and insightful post…something we all need to read from time to time and then we need to read to all of those we love…whether or not they do photography…it is a life not..not a photography note.
    I found you a few years back, bought your wonderful book and have been following you ever since…now I know why…you are a honest, real and genuine human being. That was obvious from the beginning…I’ll continue to follow you for as long as you stay here with us..
    Thank you for reminding me of my gifts and time limit to enjoy and share them..
    May you continue to heal and keep inner peace in your heart…
    enjoy your day….every day.

  3. David, this was heartfelt! Amongst many others, I’ve been following you for some time and for the most part, all you’ve done was inspire. For that, we should be(I am) thankful and grateful to you. For the time spent giving to a community we’ve all grown to love. I’ve loved everything from your rants, to your raves! In your good and bad times, you’ve shared what you’ve felt; that makes us family. Keep on trucking now, and sharing of course 😉

  4. I’m a few days late to the party, but want to add my appreciation for this post, and your photos, and your spirit, and your sharing of all the above. You always keep it real, David, whether you’re ranting or raving. Keep going, brother, we like you plenty just the way you are!

  5. David I love how you can fall and yet your spirit continues to grow. Its funny how we don’t get to choose when these major life events happen or how bright the other side can be if we let it in. Keep growing and sharing your humanity!

    Thanks… J

  6. Ditto the many other comments. I come by here on occasion to be inspired. This post is all I needed for today. Thank you. And glad to hear things are going well.

    Cheers from Quito.

  7. David, I came across you, your work and your blog shortly before your “I Fell of a Wall in Italy” post and I’ve been cheering you on and have been a fan ever since. Your outlook, your tenacity, your rants, your creativity and sense of self and adventure has been inspirational. I know its been a long road for you but I’m so glad to have read this post and see that things are going great…and may they continue to do so. You thanked us but I have to say…Thank You!

  8. Thank you for writing those words. I have been blessed much more than I have ever deserved in all aspects of my life and, most importantly, know and acknowledge it. Every day I live a grateful life and do what I can to help others along their journey. I’ve never been happier, more content or more fulfilled than I am now.

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  10. I would have never heard your story had I not opened my weekly newsletter from Kim Manley Ort, Photography. And how ironic that it happened to be Easter wkend; when I have taken a step back to realize that I need to relax and enjoy and embrace life around me. Thank you for your story and a big thank you to people for reposting. Happy Easter David.

  11. I am grateful for your gratitude David. That’s not just playful use of the two terms. I find that gratitude can be contagious and by sharing your own gratitude it makes me grateful for the things I have in my life. Perhaps I should share my gratitude as well in the hopes that it inspires others to do the same.

  12. Well written David… truly from the heart. I appreciate your insightfulness pertaining to photography as well as anything else.

  13. Four. Four? Seems like just yesterday in so many ways. Thank you for surviving. For being here; the world is a better place because you’re in it. For demonstrating how adversity can be handled with beauty, strength, and grace. And for pouring your soul out in so many magnificent ways. Rock on, poet warrior. Be still my beating heart . . .

  14. Happy Easter David. It has been a real pleasure to follow your progress, read your writings, and most of all view your pictures. Thank you for sharing all those aspects with us and wishing you continued happiness for the next four times however many years.

  15. You have a great mindset, “… And I have learned to be deeply, deeply grateful. Gratitude remains the best painkiller in my life.”

  16. Happy Easter! Thank you for sharing these thoughts, they are very inspiring and a good lecture for the Easter weekend. There are so many demotivating things happenings in the news, it is good to have some human beings around who – well – are like a light in the darkness. Have a peaceful time this Easter and try maybe not to chop any wood 🙂 Regards, Andreass

  17. Your words are a great gift to us all David. I often tell your story in some of my own presentations. People say to me all the time, that looks dangerous, which is the lead in for me to tell yours… You are great material all the way around, thank you David.

  18. Hi David.
    I would echo the others that have said thank you back to you.
    Several years ago I read Photographically Speaking and it really touched something in my psyche.
    Since then I have read anything with your name on it and it has changed the way I look at my life and the world. I hope one day to meet you in person, I’d like to share my story over a beer, or something.
    Best regards,
    Trev W

  19. Thanks so much! This morning i sat in the front of a bakery, where i bought things for breakfast for me and my family. I saw the sky and asked me: Its a long time that i read something about David duChemin, becauce his writing is so, hm,, deep and meaningful. And here you are. Its great to share my lifetime here with you on this planet…

  20. gratitude in your face and gratitude in my mind for all your words. thank you David for being who you are! Happy Easter.

  21. Greetings from the UK, David. Here’s wishing you continuing recovery and fire in your belly to keep creating your stunning images…. You are a great inspiration!

  22. It’s a two-way gratitude. You kicked my ass so many times since that very first day I heard about you and read all your books. You not only helped me to listen to myself yet be more critique too. And your poet-warrior stuff is certainly useful for a French like me to learn English, even if that means always keeping a dictionnary by my side when reading you ;o) ! Best wishes for next.

  23. Thank you David for all the inspiration and help you’ve given me since you published your first book. All the best 🙂

  24. Thank you for your insprational pictures. Happiness is our highest well-being. Best wishes!

  25. Staying warm in a cold place, with gratitude, humility and courage. That’s (some of) what I see of you in that photo above. I feel quite lucky to have found someone whose “work” in visual storytelling inspires so much, like only one other, for me, the late Galen Rowell, What’s even more is this gift you’ve found, of sharing and teaching, the technical, the personal, and the emotional with the printed word. Thanks for bringing us along on your roller coaster of rebirth and renewal. How about some Italian red for a toast? Cheers, and Happy Easter!

  26. Thanks for the years you’ve been online, David. Your thoughts have always led me to give pause to my life. I appreciate your being here. Wishing you the best for your continued recovery.

  27. What a fantastic and real post. Refreshing. So glad you have open yourself up to love again and truly are living your life to the fullest! What a great attitude about dealing with pain. Best of luck to you!


  28. I appreciate your poet warrior musings, as well. It’s nice to be reminded of the things we so often forget as we navigate our daily rituals and habits. I picked up “Within the Frame” in the book store some time before the wall fall. Found the blog shortly after and it went into my RSS reader where it gets checked and read daily. Thanks!

  29. It shows David. In your face as well as in your words and images over the years. You have a zest for life that is contagious – a unique gift that propels others to be their best, and you deserve all the great things that come your way.

    Carpe Diem and Happy Easter.

  30. I’ve been reading your posts since your fall, and look forward to every one. I love the way you put the things I think about too into words. Thank you for taking the time to write it all down.

  31. Your poet warrior stuff is what really grabbed me. I love your ‘work’, but I think I love your teachings and writings more. You’ve said so much to inspire me and keep me moving forward…not just in my quest to find my art, but in my daily life. You’ve have helped keep those embers glowing.
    This post brought tears to my eyes. I’m so happy that you’ve found so much in those hard years. 🙂

  32. David, I’ve been following you and your work for a long time (rather quietly). I read VisionMongers, and reread it, and have come back to it yet again to rekindle the fire of purpose. Your writing is full of life and hope, and that is intoxicating. Don’t stop, and thank you.

    Peace from the southern highlands,

  33. I remember praying for your healing when you had the fall. I need you to know that your photography is beautiful, but it is your spirit that I am drawn to and this post is no exception. Thank you so much David for being you and I am so thankful that you survived so that we can continue to learn from you.

  34. Thank you David, for your beautiful images, they inspire one to reach higher, as well as your poetic words.

    Thanks for your gratitude towards life, also inspiring.

    Happy Easter, David.

  35. I was fortunate to meet you through your book Photographically Speaking, and that was a couple of years after “the wall.” From there I started following your blog and eBooks. You’ve been my primary mentor, example and inspiration for the past year and a half. I appreciate the impact you’ve made in my life and vision!

  36. Grateful for the continued enlightened posts and encouragement to keep on keeping on! Love all that you be and do! In gratitude to you!

  37. I love the poet-warrior stuff David. It not only helps me make better photographs….sometimes it helps with life in general.

  38. Greetings from Brazil – I remember that period, and I’ve been a follower and fan actually before that – good to know that this opened new insights for you! Keep Walking 🙂

  39. You’re intolerable only to those who don’t have the patience to listen. The rest of us know that it’s all part of the whole.

    Keep your stick on the ice.

  40. Thank you for all you’ve given to us, David! This very post, included. I am in a dark spot but aware of that ember. I’m also aware of and grateful for the support I have in friends and family to fight this injustice. Now, if I could fight this hard at making my photos as I have at this life alerting situation I’d be a better photographer. Here’s hoping my future spare time and direction is alerted for the better. This post is going in my inspiration folder.

  41. Thank you, David. It’s been a pleasure to be even a very small part of the last 4 years and beyond.

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