Paul & I spent a few hours together one morning last week. Talking, listening, laughing. We share the same view on some things. On others we are diametrically opposed. We have a routine that is similar in ways, but indescribably different in others.
Paul lives under a house owned by a friend of his, here in Lismore.
Like Paul, I am an early riser. Both of us are up before the sun. I like the peace & the quiet & the fact that I can work & think for a few hours without phone calls & emails to distract me. The gentle onset of day simultaneously stirs & focuses me & I am at my most productive in this time. Of course good quality coffee helps……
I enjoyed chatting & joking with him & I know he like my company. He has a lot to say but, I suspect, no one who will listen. I hadn’t known him to this point so have no history to influence my opinion or perception of him. Even accounting for the effects of a few litres of wine he is a gregarious, non threatening person. He was relatively comfortable with me photographing him in what is essentially his home
Every so often as we spoke, a look would come across Paul’s face. Sometimes it would pass laterally, like a ripple, other times it burned me from his eyes & lingered. It was like a realisation, perhaps buried or half forgotten. I was searching for some kind of clarity into what had been Paul’s life until this point, & how he had come to where he know was, both in a physical & psychological sense.
As a people photographer I am always searching for visual metaphors & ways to illustrate what I am seeing & feeling. Paul, surrounded by rubbish, just blended in with the squalour. We live in a disposable society, in which we are encouraged to discard things we no longer want & move on, buy more, buy new. We also discard human beings, the ones we don’t want & move on. This is essentially Paul’s lounge room.
That look, penetrating the fog.
I left & went home. I have always been acutely aware & deeply grateful that I have a family that loves me, parents who always encouraged me & gave me the self belief that I could do whatever I wanted. I have a beautiful wife who tells me she loves me everyday & wants me to be the best me that I can. Soon we will have a our first child, whom we will love unconditionally no matter what they say or do.
But I just had this nagging thought, & maybe you do too…………..that under the right (or wrong) circumstances, with a couple of 50/50 calls going against you or a bad decision made you or someone you love could NEVER one day wake up & realise you are just like Paul.