Never Blink

I've not been very vocal here lately. I keep writing down topic ideas for the blog—good ones—but then I don't follow up. I've got this huge list in 2Do just sitting there, waiting for me to sit down and commit. But here I am instead... touchy feely ramblings and all. I'm sure you find this incredibly interesting.

My good friend Bert Stephani started a series on KAGE Collective entitled My Photographic Mid-Life Crisis; he published the first instalment—Chaos—in issue 005 last week. I love that he's sharing his insecurities with the world instead of putting on the requisite Brave Hero Face™. It's so easy to just pretend we have superpowers in this age of social veneer. A few months ago, a friend of mine had a similar idea—sharing inner struggles online through a video project—but he ultimately decided against it, afraid of client repercussions, perception. Afraid of losing a certain aura of invincibility. I can understand that; there's no shame in keeping the darker side of ourselves secret. But it's a fragile edifice we build when we rely on pretences, one that can come tumbling down when we least expect it. It may be naive but I prefer laying it out there for all to see, damn the consequences.

The reality of photography—or any creative work—is rooted in struggle. Ups and downs, doubt, elation, more doubt. Good months and bad months. Years, sometimes. Moments when you feel the entire world is up for grabs and then absolute despair. Clarity of vision is always momentary because questions inevitably creep in, no matter how successful we are. I look at Bert's work and see nothing but fantastic images but it doesn't matter: he's feeling empty right now and feels a need to reassess. And it's scary and overwhelming—I know—but the fact is, it's the only fucking way to grow. Like it or not, we transform through slash and burn.

Yeah, yeah...touchy feely again.

I'm meeting professional deadlines but I'm having trouble with personal posts these days. It all seems both disconnected and repetitive, as if I've reached a plateau. I hate this. And I think part of it has to do with a certain guilt I'm feeling about my mother's illness, my incapacity at documenting this very real and very intense part of my life. I'm the guy who speaks of the importance of treating our lives as an ongoing documentary, of applying the same effort and vision to small realities than we do for exceptional situations. Yet here I am, avoiding this catastrophic milestone that's shaping my entire world view.

But I can't do it. I always have a camera with me and it's never come out of the bag since she left her house. Because it's painful, because I know how proud she is/was and would hate seeing herself this way—let alone bringing the entire world in for the ride. And because, even though I've seen incredibly touching stories chronicling a loved one's descent into Alzheimer's and dementia...ultimately, to me, it would feel like a betrayal and an exploitation. In the end, it's too horrible a thing to remember. I may regret this but so be it.

That's my rational side taking over, explaining away and analyzing. It doesn't change the fact that I'm paralyzed because of it. Deep down, I consider it a lack of courage that makes everything else around me seem futile. The mundane is much harder to take seriously these days.

Geez...I hope I'm not bringing you down.
We're headed into a long weekend over here and our living room is packed with stuff: yup, a garage sale. Huge. Some photography gear if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, although nothing extraordinary. Cheap though. A lot of toys, clothes... baggage the kids have now outgrown.

I'm actually looking forward to it: sitting outside, taking in some rays...losing myself in the unofficial launch of summer. I'll probably strap on my camera's who I am isn't it? None of it will record itself. You blink and it's gone.
Never blink.

Patrick La Roque

laROQUE, 311 Lorncliff, Otterburn Park, Canada