I was editing some photos whilst being tied to an IV for one of my immunoglobulin infusions. (For those of you new to Zebra’sChild, I get these infusions once every 3 weeks, and they take the better part of a day. But I am always and forever grateful for blood donors, as the gamma globulin that keeps me alive is ultimately obtained by many many filtrations along the flow chart getting from whole blood down to the isolation of gamma globulin. The infusions are hard on my body, and cause some severe side effects, but luckily over the years since I have been diagnosed (12 years, to be precise), the doctors, nurses and I have figured out some strong pre procedures drugs that keep me relatively comfortable. And with those in my system, I am usually able to doze or sleep for most of the time.)
So. I was editing some photos on my iPad, and one of the nurses walked by. I heard a quick intake of her breath, and then she said, “Oh, that is beautiful!”
“What? That’s yours? You took that?????”
“I didn’t know you were a photographer!”
“Well, I’ve begun to get serious about it again, and now I’m hooked.”
I showed her a couple of my other photos, ending with the one above. Her response was an incredulous “That’s amazing! I never would have thought that an opening to gas lines and some leaves on the sidewalk would even be pretty, let alone beautiful. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even have noticed. I would not even have thought of looking down. Thank you so much for showing me these.”
And that, right there, probably sums up as neatly as anything, why I take such joy in photography. It gives me a way to notice and zoom in (pun intended) on the everyday beauty of the world. I told her that I couldn’t help but notice things like the gas line and the leaves: the glint of sunlight on the steel gas cover next to the rusty brown of the accumulated leaves in the crack of the sidewalk was captivating. I can’t drive down a street without seeing at least 5 things I wish I could stop and photograph. Very few people even want to walk with me when I am walking the dogs because I keep stopping to take photographs. And it’s almost painful for me to walk by something beautiful without trying to capture the beauty on film. (Well, that shows you my age. I don’t use film of course, but somehow saying “capture the beauty digitally” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)
For me, being a photographer teaches me how to see beauty, to see the unusual, even to see and empathize with pain. I find it almost impossible not to want to record that. And then I have the opportunity (which of course also involves lots of work) to take the recorded images and try to turn them into works of art. All of which feels like a gift.