2020. It’s not that I sat down, ready to write after months, weeks or even days of contemplation for an end-of-year post. On the contrary, it just happens that I’ve found myself at my laptop with a few spare moments to jot.
A year ago it was 2019; yet it may as well have been 20, hell, 50 years ago…that much has changed. In the span of a year, we went from normalcy to having to adapt to a new normal that meant an upending of our daily routines. Why am I even writing this? You were there. We’re still there, wherever there is.
I simply must, must, MUST address the people who have sacrificed and been out in the world doing what they can to create a better world. These are the heroes. They absolutely can’t be thanked enough. Every morning, the radio station DJ would discuss news, COVID-19 statistics and how people’s lives were being negatively affected by the coronavirus.
Then, every Tuesday no matter what, the sanitation workers would be there. Driving up and down the street to collect our trash and rubbish. I’d drive to the grocery store. The same cashiers and manager would be there yet the environment had changed on them, on all of us. They are heroes. Whether they had a choice in it or not, they’re heroes. If this is you, you’re a hero. Thank you.
It was a conflicting time for photography. Never have I been so challenged—and continue to be so—creatively. Every photographic muscle and instinct in my body said to make pictures. Yet, it also felt careless and indulgent. So, to try and remedy that feeling I’ve made every effort to make pictures away from people, at least, at a reasonable distance.
When people were involved, like during a couple of photo assignments for the Wall Street Journal, I took as many precautions as possible. Some of my family members and co-workers are immune-system compromised to the extent that COVID-19 would cause severe damage to their bodies.
The circumstances of COVID-19 made me appreciative for all that I was able to experience. My mom, who passed six years ago, always said,”It could always be worse.”
This used to annoy me constantly in my teen years, but I knew what she was talking about. She suffered some tremendous hardship throughout her life, so her words carried weight; weight that I was to recognize and remember. When she said, “It could always be worse,” the worse was passing away. I’ve thought about that a lot during the last nine to ten months.
Right now, my office window is cracked so Harriet, our cat, can smell outside; I’m struggling to find the words to write; and it’s winter in Michigan. You know what though? I’m lucky to feel that freezing cold air; to feel goosebumps on my skin and to feel fleeting moments of writer’s block daily while challenges of money, creative energy and health, force themselves upon me. All of it. The reason I’m lucky is because so many people don’t have that chance.
It’s the simple things: my squeaky rear brakes that remind me of their need to be replaced; the terrible smell of the cat’s litter box needing cleaning; and the beauty of a clear-skied winter night filled with stars…it’s all of that which indicates life is being participated in.
We all pass on eventually. What this last year has especially taught me though, and is continuing to teach me, is that no matter what challenges we have going on, we’re here now, alive, and we’re all in it together.