Sunday, 1 December 2013

Self-portrait of a Man Recovering

Being ill is a lonely occupation. Whatever it is that ails you it only pertains to you and no one else. There are of course the expressed feelings of solidarity from people you know. These come in different forms and sizes. It is comforting to hear some say that all will be well, that you will beat whatever it is you need to beat to stay alive, that things will work out fine and not to worry. 
There are others that keep their mouths shut and look at you with a mixture of sympathy and sorrow. I know, I have been there, on both sides of that fence.
No expression of solidarity, written or verbal, can ever compensate for the absolute loneliness felt as you are pushed strapped to a sliding tray inside a big noisy machine that will provide your doctor with an echo picture of your insides before the operation.
No words can outdo the absolute feeling of solitude as you are slid in on a huge tray inside a massive electronic commode. You are set and introduced into what seems a chest of drawers for the duration of the scan, however long it takes. You are alone with all your fears, your thoughts, the good, the bad and the ugly ones. No one else is there with you. There is no holding hands or soothing words. Your only point of contact with the world is the low monotone humming of the beast, feeling its pulsating sounds as if a giant clock mechanism had gone insane as they reverberate inside your innards. 
A few days later you will enter the operating theatre (always drama, never comedy) so that whatever is eating at you will be excised from your system and it almost always takes place as you are peacefully sleeping in a dreamless land.
Once you come out of hospital and all seems to have gone well you go home to convalesce. There you lie in your bed and read, or on your sofa, to watch television or to sleep during long afternoons populated by visions of heaven or hell, depending of the mood you are in or on the films you are watching.
For those of us who have transited the best part of our lives as photographers sometimes the only release is to be found in taking a picture of ourselves as we evolve from sick to well or from sad to less sad, or simply there, that day, and nothing else.
This one is a good example of the latter. Some people have told me it is extreme. I beg to differ. To me it is nothing more or nothing less than a portrait of a man who is waiting out the days before going back to the blessed routine that will rescue him from the doldrums of recovery.
And, thanks for asking, all things are going well so far and I am back at work. Perhaps there should be at least a reason to smile from this day onwards.

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Fulton St, San Francisco CA, Nov 1988