Perhaps it is only when we are deprived of something that we realise it’s importance or value.
For the past couple of months I have been absolutely exhausted. Not just tired, but a deep seated exhaustion which has left me feeling dizzy, with blurred vision and arms and legs like jelly for large parts of the time. The doctors say I shouldn’t work.
This isn’t new. I’ve suffered from a post viral fatigue for fifteen years compounded by my own personality which is always wanting to get up and do things - the very reason for the problem in the first place - and the the cause of the greatest frustration when I can’t.
Most episodes are manageable - a few days every six months or so. However, this one is a biggy and has flattened me for the best part of eight weeks already and now no work until the end of July. That will be the summer holidays. That will be four months from my last full day of work until I next clock on. Pretty sobering.
I am sure many people would love to have this amount of time off. But that assumes full fitness. Not being able to do anything and feeling rough is not a good combination. When I was first told to rest I thought of all the photography books I would enjoy poring over and revisiting. Then, when I thought about building myself back up to fitness, I imagined the miles I would walk (gently) with my camera as I regained strength. The hundreds of images I’d capture as I convalesced. It was easy to put a positive spin on it.
That hasn’t been the case. For the last two months, I have simply not had the energy to go out and shoot more than once or twice (and then only for the briefest of times and only on the way to somewhere else). I really miss it. For all I wrote in my last two posts about the value of a creative outlet, the importance of this has been drilled home the hard way, through being deprived of just that. I simply haven’t been able to. And that means an important part of what makes me “me" is missing.
Instead of wiling away the hours educating my eyes by revisiting those photobooks, I have found that the appetite to do so has almost gone - I suspect due to the frustration at not being able to go out and do the very things that each of them have done on the street. The books simply rub salt into my wounds.
I’m learning to be slow. To do a fraction of what I feel I should. Anymore and I quickly overdo it. That sets me back for another four or five days. I’m not good at being patient.
I have gone back through the last two years of photos. Somehow, I felt that as my photographic eye had developed, there may be some forgotten or unrealised gems somewhere deep in the archive - there weren’t really. But I have learned a lot about how my eye has become more knowing, )and just how over processed everything was in those early images). I read recently a photographer - I forget who - who said that we learn more from our bad photos than our good ones. That is so true. It is the mistakes that teach us - think of falling off a bike. You don’t want to do that too often. I’ve marked the old RAW files up and saved them in a special folder to revisit in the next few weeks as I recover.
Perhaps cruelly, I have had a marked increase in the number of people reaching out and proposing photowalks. I will get there. There is nothing I want more. Bear with me.