I think it's time to speak about my mid-life crisis.
Let me first clarify before you jump to the wrong conclusions that I have not lost my mind.
I have not lost my identity, nor have I lost my self confidence. My mind is not overwhelmed with melancholic thoughts, and I am not anxious or filled with deep regret. I don't want to get younger, or grow my hair. I have not purchased a new shiny sports car, nor do I have any desire for a sordid love affair.
I am happily married and immensely grateful for my beautiful family. I can also confidently say that I am content with my profession.
Our family debt is slowly getting smaller. My health is good. These are the prime years of my life, and in just twelve more years, I get to retire, and French kiss my pension with open arms.
All that is left, it seems, is to preorder a good pair of dentures, invest in a modest rental property in sunny Florida, buy a mahogany rocking chair, and pick a good stain for the pine box I'll be buried in. Maybe a nice Hawaiian shirt wouldn't hurt either.
I have everything I think I need, and yet I find myself at the crossroads of my life, and in a state of crisis.
I've been here before, but not quite like this.
Not all crossroads are wrought with pain and agony. Quite the opposite.
There is a relentless little voice inside my head and it speaks in an inaudible whisper. I hear it with my soul and it calls me to greatness. It calls me to heights I never dreamed possible. To be honest, I want to ignore this little voice because it entices me to the edge of the Abyss. An Abyss that is dark and cold. Ready to collapse upon itself at any moment. When I think of the artists I admire, I see people who were predestined and somehow chosen for their mission. I don't feel chosen. I don't feel predestined.
Artists are human caricatures. They are people who seem so distant and far away. They seem to live scripted lives. They are gods and goddesses among us. Individuals who start revolutions, brand movements, and destroy to make new. Their lives are those of legend, the anointed ones, the chosen people.
There is nothing about me that seems remotely chosen, yet here I sit and wonder who I am not to believe and try?
That is my crisis.
I am living inside a moment that is without a doubt calling me to greatness. I feel pushed and compelled to take swift and decisive action. I can no longer stand by and wait.
Part of me is very numb with fear. Not the fear of failure, but the fear of success. If I am right, then I have misread the meaning of my life, or perhaps wasn't quite ready to see it before. I fear that over time, perhaps today or maybe tomorrow, I will have to say goodbye to some of my friends and acquaintances, or rather, they will secretly say goodby to me. I am undergoing a Kafkaesque metamorphosis and facing my trial. I am Joseph K. It feels like I have awakened in the Tower and Babel and I no longer speak the same language. I think and feel estranged and distant.
I have decided not to be afraid of the Abyss and to walk with fear and trembling, down a road I do not know or see. I'm not sure if I am more afraid of the unknown path, or making the return. If I don't succeed, I will have to crawl back into my old stretched skin, and I'm afraid to imagine how dark and empty it will feel. Heraclitus was right. We cannot step into the same river twice, because it is not the same river, and I am not the same man.
Life perpetually moves forward. No exceptions. It is only our mind that is stubborn and braces itself to live in the past.
The word crisis has several meanings.
It is possessed by the three weird sisters: chaos, anxiety, and uncertainty. This is why the moment of crisis never feels right. How can it? There is nowhere to run. There is nowhere to hide. No safety nets. No underground bunker. Panic sets in and fear is never far behind, yet despite all of our natural instincts, the only way through, is to stand still, motionless, and watch the storm pass us by. It always passes by. Only those that go through the storm are greeted by the new sun. Only those who are courageous to leap, experience weightlessness, and emerge transformed.
There is a fourth often forgotten sister. The one we never speak of or ever write about. She, like Cinderella, is made to sweep our house and be enslaved to others. Her name is Catharsis and she embodies an opportunity and a chance for growth and change.
Catharsis is the process of releasing. A point of purity. A moment of cleansing.
No, I have not joined a cult. I'm not a big fan of the secret whispers, the midnight meetings or the sweaty handshakes. I also think I didn't follow the application process correctly. If there is one thing I know about cults, it's that they are efficient. The office was closed, so I might have to wait 'til Monday. They just hate it when you call them outside of regular business hours.
What does this all mean you ask?
I don't know.
These are the only words swirling around in my brain and it is all I have in order to try to make sense of where I am and where I want to go.
I have been a photographer for almost ten years, but never took it seriously. I was lucky to have inherited that passion from my father. I have never written with meaning and purpose either, at least not until I started these little musings of mine. I believe I also inherited my love of writing from my father.
My mother on the other hand game me my soul; the heart to love the broken and forsaken. I have never met a more beautiful and kindhearted woman in my life. I had the privilege of meeting one once, and so I married her.
Two men stared out their prison bars. One saw stars, the other saw mud.
I am standing in a pool of mud, still behind bars, but what is different about me today is that I can see the stars.
They are beautiful. They are majestic and they cannot be counted.
It is not only the sun that happens to shine bright. She has a seemingly infinite number of brothers and sisters. Our ancestors spent their life contemplating and rejoicing over those little points of light. So far away; yet so real and visible. We don't look at the stars anymore, we only watch them on Oscars night or the Grammys, on our precious little glowing screens.
I plan to continue writing. I plan on creating breathtaking photographs.
There is no more dreaming. No more standing still.
It is time to do the work.