628 words

This year’s onset of the third week of September is one that I will not soon forget. As the sun set, it brought a shock to those making their way home after a long day indoors. They had become accustomed to the violent pummeling of the sun radiating well into the next day. With a sunset time of seven thirty, golden hour brought a chill that made most people retreat inwards. This chill did nothing to broaden the tunnel vision required to be effective in their day jobs. It became more difficult to leave their professional lives behind and to re-enter their personal ones with a refreshed stance. Depressives and paranoids started sharing traits, and extroverts found themselves in a barren landscape of sheepish eye contact and impenetrable inner monologues.

The third week of September also brought a stampede of appointments and meetings with many who had secretly been in great pain. Seeing their closely held pain and fears of perishing mirrored in the leaves above their heads started to weigh on many. Often, when the reason and the matter that brought us together was closed, resolved, or satisfied until the project’s next milestone, the parties went their separate ways or settled into going over their private struggles.

The more severe of these personal battles surrounded severe chronic pain, both physical and psychological, and the welcoming of an early and unprovoked death. To have one’s own body and or brain chemistry be a prominent aggressor and predator was proving to be too much this Autumn.

The only comfort I could provide was how I managed to deal with severe life-altering physical injuries this year and how I managed to overcome the mental abyss that such experiences often take us.

Earlier this year, I lost feeling and strength in my right leg for about a week before it slowly started returning through hard work and not giving up. This left me to crawl on my chest around my house, including down the stairs to my home office, to retrieve my computer so I could bring it and its charger upstairs to work by the washroom. The toilet, shower, bed or any other obstacle required me to use my upper body strength to lift myself up and to settle my body into an operable state. As the months went by, along with hundreds of hours of physiotherapy, I managed to build back most of what was lost and even pursue a second career, which is physically demanding.

How I managed to get past the abyss, which greatly came into focus that first week, was through satiating my sense of wonder. At first, this was through reading, and after I felt good enough to leave my house and see my doctor, it was through the lens of a camera.

I shifted toward photographing with distinct vintage lenses that approached an Impressionist worldview. The focused and soft subject would be set on a canvas where reality would be warped and faded, just as an intense memory would. Awareness of one’s surroundings would fall into the abstract and less absolute terms as one’s ability to be present and to transcend into a hyper-focused state of analysis and, most importantly, appreciation.

This had accompanied me the most on the third week of September. The sense of wonder that eclipses the traditional notion of wonder is related to that of childhood. The disillusionment that inevitably accompanies life’s great pains and disappointments was left indolent. It was left powerless.

Even though the work toward regaining all that was lost is not over, and every moment brings with it a wincing of physical pain, the wonder and the thirst to learn and be present have been the best medicine this year.

Even as Autumn builds towards winter.

– Time of Writing: September 17th, 2023