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A Thursday lunch in Oakland.

March 8th, 2003

"They Say It's Your....
Birthday!" No complaints. If you asked me at any point in my earlier years to guess to what age I might survive, I would have guessed, without intervening accident (Vietnam, rabid dog, Muni bus), about sixty. Sixty years. The beginning of the seventh decade. The concept I'd one day actually be sixty, when I was twenty, when I was thirty, was but a brief hallucination, a fleeting distraction from whatever it was I was thinking at that moment. Sixty indeed. At forty, and this is strange, even at fifty - you'd think you'd have an idea by then - sixty was terra incomprehensible. No idea that I, your's truly, would acually turn this particular page. And how does it feel, old guy, brushing the hair from your eyes, blinking, to be sixty?

Not so bad. Nice to still have hair. Not what I expected, actually, since I'm not sure what I expected. I still maintain some minor connection to the world around me, even though I don't do much more than carp about it here. I still have the occasional flash of insight that will lead me running off on some improbable project. I can still wag my tail and say "woof!" (which freaks the cat). So I'll leave it at that. Some of you are older and shaking your head, some of you are younger and shaking your head and some of you stopped eating the yellow snow long ago and pay no attention.

Couldn't we, you know, keep it simple? What really are your thoughts?.

Terra incognita. I've had the health things I've been thinking about, writing about, but the challenge that's had me worried is finding myself at a place where the world around me has lost its interest. The passions of my younger days seem to be slipping away. I'm not reading much, not listening to music (although I'm working on it), not earning a living at something that gives me much of a kick. I'm shooting pictures, but I'm realizing I'd better work at keeping the shooting fresh or I'll eventually lose that interest and I'm not altogether confident I can do it. I'm writing this and I'm thinking maybe of writing something more ambitious, but I did that once and I'm not confident I will want to do it again.

I've played with the web and the technology and that's been fine, but like the photography, like the writing, like everything else, you've got to keep growing and changing or it dies. Remember the old Dylan tune, anyone not "busy being born, is busy dying"? Well, at some point I will be dying, but that (hopefully) is the work of a moment and the trick is focusing on the living part. I can't say I've ever been bored in my life, life has been far from boring, but I guess that's the worry. What happens when all the people I've known in my youth are gone and those who are not gone might as well be gone because we've stopped talking and you don't meet new people without real effort?

What happens when the health makes it hard or impossible to sit at a keyboard? Living alone as I've always lived? What happens when my writing, even to me, seems hopelessly flat? Weed the garden? Will I have the imagination to even make the attempt? Easy to fall into depression, harder to head it off. Best to head it off. Best to stay in the sunshine and occasionally, just occasionally, live life outside my head.

Now, back to more important stuff. I said I was going to order some studio lights tomorrow. Of course I've been thinking since, studio lights to photograph what? Invite people up to the apartment for a photo shoot? That sounds brash. That sounds, um, well, something I could do, I guess. What's the downside? I own a bunch of studio lights that never wear out.

I walked downtown this noon packing a camera, extra lens, strobe, ten or twelve rolls of film, had lunch, walked the long way back around the lake, broke a sweat. I'll walk into work Monday. Felt good. First time since the operation. The head feels better, the day went better, and I'm in the mood to be upbeat. I think I've shot but one picture this weekend and that was on my way to yesterday's breakfast, but it might turn out. These things are good. On my birthday. In Oakland.

The photograph was taken at a recent Thursday lunch in Oakland.