The morning has moved from a muted Art Pepper “Over The Rainbow” to Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey.” It’s always a good sign when I find my way back to Van Morrison; he has been with me for a very long time. “You can take all the tea in China and put it in a great big brown bag for me” seems a remarkable way to talk about feeling fine about who you are and who you are with. Even so, I realized that the hard thing for me about my getting up very early and finding my way into the old music is that memory can be complicated, dangerous, if only because it can be full of feelings of loss and regret that take on weight, pulling me back into the memory of what was, and is, both now compromised and not soon to return, if ever. Going back there is not an option; keeping it real and healthy means staying here, and being present with nonspecific fear and drift of another day with too much pain and not enough physical outlet and/or peace of mind. I canceled another shoot this morning.
It is time for breakfast and a trip to the gym, where I will do some aerobic exercise on a machine and listen to a Van Morrison playlist on Pandora. My back will hurt for a while and then I will get into the rhythm of it. Somewhere in there will be a recognition that I am doing this thing and not sitting at home in pain like I did for the past year. That unlike many folks who have gone through my sequence of physical ailments, I am alive and well and irrationally irritated with my perceived failings; to the degree that I am succeeding in rebuilding a life that works for me, the irritation is useful if somewhat indulgent. The “I Used-to-was” phrase has been mostly replaced with the more accurate and ultimately more useful “I am.”
Photos by Michael Lebowitz. All rights reserved.