Since DW was off to a lecture in Portland, the plan was that I would take one of the cats to her vet appointment. Task out of the way, I was back in the dungeon to work on this last two weeks’ photo assignment, “The Aging Body.”
I had thought about the project on the ride to, and back from the appointment, struggling with how to present my body to show the aging, to no avail. Frustrated and home again, I sat down at the computer, my usual distraction when such a mood sets in.
The phone rang.
“Is this Patrick?
“It’s Kelly from the animal clinic. You forgot to pick up the medications at the front desk.”
“Shit, sorry, I’ll be right there.”
Sorry because that meant I walked on the invoice too.
The sun was setting, so after fetching the indoor/outdoor cat that shares my studio at night, I got in the truck and headed west.
Cute, petite Kelly giggled.
“Now, now, young lady.”
I’ve always been rather absent-minded, easily distracted, pre-occupied; in other words, intensely focused in an unfocused sort of way, that is, on the wrong things for the moment and task at hand. Place me in some hallowed hall, dress me in a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, an unlit pipe sticking out of a corner of my mouth and a spec of lunch on my beard, and with a few more IQ points, I’d be justified. I could give lectures!
Back in front of the camera, I played around with more close-ups of my face, straining to accentuate every wrinkle I could muster. It just wasn’t working, so I got goofy.
What about revisiting other body parts? If so, I’d have to take off my fleece and/or sweats, yet the heater was still warming the room, so those photos would have to wait.
Still, how would I photograph? I could collect more dust bunnies and redo the foot photos… As I stepped back from the camera, I caught a glimpse of myself at some distance, the light dimmer to where I could see only the flesh of my face and hands.
Maybe the answer lay away from the camera. Then it dawned on me: While trying to get as much as possible right with lighting, exposure and body parts, I had been neglecting what I actually thought about getting older.
Of course: metaphor, not straight image. The aging body is inevitable, as is death. What is the worse fear about aging? The fear of becoming irrelevant.