Paradise

Karma’s a bitch.

Veronica Lodge, Riverdale

Hawaii, 2000.

I spent 30 years making the best of things. Then The Woman gifted me a second-hand camera bought from a friend who needed the cash. How was she to know?

Deep called to deep. A primal urge awakened. I put in the hours, scarcely aware of the forces working under the surface. I learned the lesson of finding the profound in the prosaic. Let the Ansel Adams of the world perfect the art of the remarkable. I’ll do my best on my own patch.

I knew my place. I sought out the telling detail, the extraordinary hiding in ordinary life. I captured it as best I could with my limited skills.

Then life landed me in paradise, the very definition of the photogenic landscape, just when I had taken the pledge.

Hello, I’m Brad. I’m a photo-aholic. It’s been ten years since my last serious photograph.

How do you discern between a calling and a delusion? I faced this question with photography. I faced this question with fiction. I still don’t know the answer. Well, I know one answer. The Woman.

This morning, she said, “You stayed up late last night.”

“Yes. I stayed up till two working on the photography memoir.”

“Oh, that’s good.”

I don’t know much, but I know a few things, and those things will get me through.

  1. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
  2. The Woman knows me better than I know myself and loves me anyway.
  3. Who needs number three? Number two says it all.

I can count my close friends on one hand and still have a finger left to pick my nose should the need arise. Every Friday evening I call Spyrison, one of my band of brothers, as I drive home from the weekly gathering of the cognoscenti, and we talk of things mundane and transcendent.

As it turns out, tonight we talked of the fiction addiction. He’s working on the second book in an amazing trilogy. Maybe someday you will get a chance to read it. I’m working on financing the apartment renovation for my mother. When it’s completed, I will write my next novel, and it will be the best thing I’ve written so far.

Who will care? Me and The Woman and Spyrison and Ian and a dozen or so other peeps. But who’s counting?

I can hear the naysayers in my head. Why bother? To them I ask, what are you doing that will live on beyond you? Do that thing, even if it doesn’t pay the bills. Do that thing, even if you don’t stand to gain from it financially.

Do it because it is the thing you must do

Don’t mistake me. Do the thing you must do to pay the bills, but don’t let that stop you from doing the other thing. It might be gardening or knitting or cataloging baseball statistics. Whatever it is, that thing that is that is burning in your soul, do it.

Make space for it. Forego the next episode of the Netflix thing you’re bingeing and do it. Take the step from consumer to producer and do it.

But I digress. As I was saying, I started out my photographic journey working out how to find something worthy of photographing in my pedestrian world, and suddenly I found myself in the middle of paradise, surrounded by exotic vistas that demanded devotion to the craft, right when I had relegated myself to the life of the snapshot photographer.