Who Am I?

In life I wear so many labels. Friend. Disabled. Brother. Schizoaffective. Student. Mentor. Old. Male. Which one is really me?

This is a question that I often ponder. Where is me in all of this? Do I choose the label depending on the audience? Is the label pinned to me by others?

I think that the label is a way of others defining me. Do they see me as a friend or disabled or ill. The label is given but to some degree I wear it because it keeps life simpler and gives me a role that I must play in set contexts. If I am being extremely honest I think that the way that others see me is important. I oddly enough liked to be liked.

I want to give myself a brand new label. I know I probably have far too many labels to deal with now but this one is important to me. I am a photographer. I know you will probably think that is either a job description or something to do for a hobby. There is no arguing that but you see I am a photographer. This encompasses so much of life. To be a photographer and I mean a good photographer I have to be good at doing so many things including:
– Observing
– Math after all photography is based on mathematics.
– Visualisation of the end result
– Creativity
– Storytelling
– Skill

This is a label that I choose. I am a photographer. Why photography and why a photographer? I never feel so alive nor so complete as when I have a camera in my hands and I’m taking photos. I don’t mean the happy snap of someone standing by a statue when on holidays. I am talking of a much different animal though still related in the same way that humans and kangaroos are which means they share the same DNA but are not the same. Photography is a way of making art or communicating ideas or sharing knowledge. When creating I am in a spiritual place. I am a photographer. Photography is an extension of who I am.

I am a photographer but that doesn’t mean I can do all types of photography. I do not have the gentleness of spirit to be a landscape photographer. It just isn’t in me. I love the interplay between light and shadow. I am enjoying being in the studio and creating images. I have never thought of myself as a creative person but that has changed over the last year or so. I do credit this re-emergence as a photographer and the awakening of creativity with TAFE and in particular Nepean Arts & Design Centre (NADC) www.facebook.com/wsi.nadc They have been both kind and patient with me. The reason that I got back into photography was mentioned in the blog post called 2016. I can honestly say that having a camera in my hands makes me the happiest I have ever been. I guess it would be the same for a painter to have a brush or a sculptor their chosen materials in their hands. There is something incredibly freeing and liberating in photography for me. It is the same feeling I got many years ago when first taking up photography and happens for me once I get past the technical side of cameras. There is a learning curve with any art-form and with mastery of the tools comes a deeper love and desire to create.

What type of photographer am I? I am a developing as a Fine Arts Photographer. I have always loved looking at and shooting the isolated parts and details of an object. I already have one exhibition booked in for 2018 and hoping to have at least one other. Most of the images that I have taken so far deals in some way with my mental illness. No longer will I accept the label of mental illness or disabled but I make my own label. I am a photographer. I am not a happy snapper and a holiday only shooter because I am a photographer.

Time to live my dream and to move into a future where I do the thing I love and hopefully others will find enjoyment. Importantly, it isn’t for others that I do it because it is my art and creativity that drives me.

Live your dream. Follow your own path and be happy. I have never been happier or more certain about anything as I am about being a photographer. So I have a new label and one that I love: I am a photographer!

A Time Like This

5:30AM! I blinked more than a few times as I looked at the time. My mind was in disbelief. It cannot be 5:30AM. It is too dark. I have had one of the worst night sleeps imaginable though it was more of a string of punching the pillow and then tossing from one side to the other. While I hadn’t slept and was awake I also didn’t want to get out of bed. I looked over at my Assistance Dog Buddy, and said, “you don’t REALLY want to go for a walk yet do you?” Buddy’s response was to jump on the bed and back down a couple of times. Hmmm I guess he did want to go for a walk. So up I get and off we go.

I walked out into the morning after. Yesterday of 46+ degrees on the Celsius scale which would be around 116 in Fahrenheit. It was hell hot. I don’t handle heat well. I am not a summer kid but love autumn and spring weather the best. Crisp air is great! I love autumn for the colours of the leaves turn on the trees and listening to the fallen one’s crunch as I walk. Spring holds the promise of growth and renewal. Summer in Australia is relentless. So today as Buddy and I walked out of the house and up the driveway in the grey early morning light I felt like I survived a major natural hazard.

img_20170212_062335575The air was without sounds! Things were quiet. No cars. No music. No people. Nothing! I love it when there is no one around. I am not a people person. I also love the soft pastel light just before the sun comes up.  As we walk we see it slowly happen. Silently. Ever so slowly, kind of like a smile the creeps on one’s lips when you remember a happy memory. The red begins to tickle the clouds like a lover slowly running theimg_20170212_062739382_hdr tips of their fingers on the cheek of the one they are kissing. It is only lightly at first. For me it is like being part of a precious moment as the day is ready to appear out of the darkness of night.

img_20170212_062731265_hdrI look up and see the day break. It is a wonderous thing. To feel the breeze on my face and to hear Buddy walking over dried grass and fallen leaves is like beautiful music to my ears. With my mental illness there are times of great struggle to keep on living but in this moment I am content. Something I rarely feel. I am looking at something that will never ever happen again. Sure there will be more sunrises but there will not be another one today. I am witness a miracle. How can I be right in the middle of suburbia and still feel at one with the natural?

I wish I could begin to describe how my skin tingled and my heart raced as I watched God give life to this day. This day when so much would happen for so many. People will be born today and their mothers will know the img_20170212_063702029_hdrjoy of holding their baby for the first time. Someone somewhere will laugh or giggle. People will wake with blurry eyes after the struggle that was the night before. Some might have to clean up the mess after the night before. Without a doubt what will happen today will become the memories in times to come.

img_20170212_063542061_hdrSummer days in Australia are often heralded in by a riot of colour and light. Today was no different. This is one of the most iconic things to see as an Australian, the dawn of a new summer day. The colours are bold and brash. The heat is already beginning to build. There are many times I wish I could be somewhere cooler but at seeing this sight my heart knows I am an Australian. I once heard someone say that whenever a scot hears the bagpipes they long for home but whenever I see a day like this begin I know that in ever fibre of my being I am Australian and glad to be alive!img_20170212_063422217

Moments

Moments come and moments go. Some moments we wait our whole life for. Some are just an instant burst of joy. Some will linger long in the memory. I just had such a moment.

To some this will seem quite a silly moment. Some won’t understand. Some will stand in awe and wish they had such a moment. While other’s will remember their moments like this and smile. No matter if you have or haven’t had a moment like this I hope you will join in the childlike wonder of the moment.

I have an Assistance Dog, Buddy. When Buddy isn’t working he is just Buddy. I guess like Postman Pat, he isn’t always a postman but he is always Pat. Anyway, one of the things about Buddy is he needs three to four toilet walks a day, after all, he is an Assistance Dog not a robot. He will not toilet on the house block but needs to go for a walk. This is actually good for my depression. No matter if it is a freezing frosty morning or like today a blistering hot afternoon I have to take Buddy for his walks.

We just got back from such a walk.

During this walk Buddy directed me towards a giant shade tree well more towards the shade of this huge oak tree. When it gets to hot on our walks Bud takes the opportunity to lie down. This time he put his nose to the ground and then rolled in the grass with a huge smile on his face. I started rubbing his tummy and then it happened I giggled. It just bubbled up from some deep well and before I even knew it was there on my lips. This sneaky giggle turned into a laugh and then it was an outrageous uproar of laughter. I was in the moment. If someone would have chanced upon this scene they would have thought I was drunk or out of my mind.

Then something else wonderful happened. I just laid down in the grass with Buddy. I giggled, talked, giggled some more and patted him. It was a perfect moment of peace in a mad world. The peace was all pervasive. There wasn’t a part of me that didn’t feel like I was at one with myself and this moment.

For the longest time I just laid there with my dog and talked and laughed and looked at his most amazing smile. It was like he understood. It was like we suddenly knew each other far better than we ever had.

Maybe this happened because it came at the end of a very stressful day. Maybe it just happened because I needed it. Maybe it just happened.

While I do understand the serendipitous nature of this moment I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I wouldn’t trade it for money or gold. This was a moment of sheer bliss. This was a moment of just being. I didn’t have to be anything or pretend I just went with what was happening. My spirits were lifted and I felt so incredibly alive. I was truly me.

This may not sound like much to you but as I have explained previously I have a range of mental illnesses and this is huge, trust me, it really is huge.

Just lying in the long cool grass, under the shade of that huge oak tree, with my best mate, now that was heaven on earth. I just wish I had the words to let you know how freeing, how calming, how relaxing and how life affirming it was for me.