I still remember feeling it break. The pain shot through my chest as though at once all my ribs had cracked. It was the last 30 seconds of the video, a clip of my dad taking my brother’s hand, and laughing about some now lost but undoubtedly sarcastic remark as he said, “Goodbye, son.” Donny Hathaway’s “I Can See Clearly Now” played as the clip slowed and faded into the last image in the video. I felt it break a little more. He was finally in a place where laughing was all he’d ever do, and while I was sure that only my ribs kept my heart from coming apart, I found peace knowing that humor would save me.
My father loved to laugh. In fact, he is the only grown man I’ve known that could watch cartoons all day. And he was funny. His entire face participated when he told his family stories, especially those involving his cousin Steve. They were two boys who should never have been left unsupervised. For the last half of my father’s life, he suffered through numerous health problems and a lot of pain, but he laughed at whatever he could. And he taught us that humor heals.
So, in the days that followed his passing, and even now, seven years later, we laugh with him, retelling his stories. My sister and brother are so very much like him in their ability to shake off life’s challenges and find mirth in everything. I’ve spent years trying to emulate them, and I think I’ve finally gotten close.
The old song says, “Laugh, when your heart is aching.” It is a prescription I highly recommend.
The last year has been a wild, wonderful storm of new things for me. I relish every minute, even the most painful. It all taught me something.
Earlier today, in one of the professional groups I belong to on Facebook (Craig Lamere, a talent so huge, it’s almost criminal) a challenge came down to post our best work of 2014. As usual, a blog entry was born the moment I realized which image I should use.
It is the final year in my 40s, but it has been the year that taught me the most. I have accepted and embraced things about myself that have freed me to be who I wish I was when I had the freedom to do it all. A lot of people say that, but can’t pinpoint exactly what that means. I can.
Tomorrow, I’ll be introducing “The Year of a Hundred Things” in this blog forum. I am going to examine things that are important to me, hoping it will resonate and inspire others to do the same. But today, I want to focus on the one thing that changed for me in 2014 that represents years of searching.
I grew up in a household that did not put value on creativity. That’s not an indictment; they just didn’t learn its value from their parents, so they placed no value on it themselves. I have lived my life within the confines of that barrier, not knowing HOW to break past it. Well, this year, I did. A few people influenced that epiphany, some of whom will recognize their reflection in this piece, and some who won’t, which makes me sad for them because they don’t know what they mean to me. One I believe is lost forever, and there is nothing to be done.
And now that I have broken past it, I want to take a moment to recognize one of the moments that brought it to my attention. In February of this year, my dear friends said goodbye to their father: a man who garnered respect and admiration because of the example he set. He also had a voice that shook the walls of every sanctuary in which he sang. It was a difficult time for his children and grandchildren, but their faith made them a shining example of what saying goodbye should look like. Their collective grace was inspiring.
As my friends began the arduous process of planning his final rest, I had the privilege of occupying the tiniest member of the family. She is among my favorite muses. I had decided earlier in the year that I was going to make the leap into a level of creativity I had theretofore denied myself. And that day, with my tiny muse more than willing to be photographed as long my camera’s battery would last, I made what I believe is the most iconic image of my career, so far.
As “Let it Go” rang out in my studio, my tiny muse danced around in her lovely blue dress and I focused as fast as I could. I shot hundreds of frames that day, but the ones I loved most came between the first and the last notes of her favorite song. I gave her every age-appropriate prop I had and I watched through my viewfinder as her imagination flourished. It was magic, and it reached into my chest and wrapped its tiny hand around my heart. I was exhausted when I finally set my camera on the table, but I was thrilled at what I’d achieved. I just let it go. It seems so prosaic, but in reality, it was the perfect storm.
As I look back on this past year, the years I wasted searching for my passions become far less important than those ahead of me, giving me the chance to further push the envelope in both in my writing and my photography.
Happy New Year to all my friends and readers. May the new year bring you to yourself, and may you find joy there.
You can view my work on Facebook by searching “Imagomodo” (www.facebook.com/imagomodo). My website is http://www.imagomodo.com, but it is woefully outdated (and currently number 1 on the New Year’s resolutions list).