Somewhere in the middle

The current seemed ok to begin with, didn’t seem overly deep either; one of those streams where you can’t quite see the bottom but you feel it is probably okay to venture in a little further. Six months later the flow was much fiercer, I felt as if I was no longer treading water and looking for a place to land, to find my feet again; the banks having withdrawn there didn’t seem any way back that made any sense.

Occasional islands of sanctuary let me breathe more easily, but all the while knowing that there was only one thing to do and that was to jump right back in. Sometimes the flow works with me, my head bobbing above the water, my legs propelling me in a direction of my choice. Sometimes the water is so choppy that I am under the waves as much as I am surfacing for air and light, alighting again and again in a new place not envisioned before, my head spinning from the unrecognisable jetsam surrounding me wherever I find myself beached.

I’m on an island at the moment, navigationally I estimate about half the prescribed journey still to encounter; hoping that when I get there I’m not there at all, but only half-way again. More things have happened on this passage than I could have imagined. I do feel somewhat loosed from the security of tenure of where I was in control; bounded by a frame of comprehension, largely devised by myself to provide a frontier, a perimeter within which I wanted to explore, no to go too far beyond and examine.

What I am finding is a different sense of self that reminds me of someone I knew forty or fifty years ago; someone who wanted to jump right in off the top board, find the fastest current and dive deeper into the pools. I am conscious that time, one of the backcloths that situates itself in everything I encounter, is working both for and agin’ me, but mostly it reminds me of the little there is left of it. Fifty years is half a century; half a score left to find out what to say and articulate it? Maybe.

There are so many new tributaries that seem to continue to appear and when I first started noticing them I wanted to navigate those new channels; now, as the breadth of the channel gets broader I seem to either get swept past some or make conscious decisions to leave them uncharted. But still I don’t know where the flow will take me. I’ve been on excursions into territories that have demanded my attention, some that have been foisted on me by the demands of the course of the course, but mostly there has been a need driven from within to try and make sense of things.

As I waded into the water at the beginning of the journey I thought that maybe it was all about pictures, about how a photograph might proffer, of itself, a substantiation of increased comprehension of the subject; what I increasingly thought was that the photograph would not suffice by itself, that it was a component – an index possibly – of the underscoring chronicling of the narrative. I then came to another sojourn that wrested that notion away, transplanting it with photographs, a series, that allowed perspective nuancing. And now, at the midway-point, the realization that both the images and the series are a by-product of my intent. That this intention has also drifted with the tide; should I know or have a sense of where I am going or should I cast-off being prepared to acknowledge and welcome the intrusions and obstacles on the way? A sense of the outcome now seems more preferable than the accomplishment of a pre-visualised confirmation; having the temerity to launch without a full set of navigational aids now seems about right. With the distance behind me seemingly half the expanse before me is now a welcome panorama; I’m not at the delta yet , though I am starting to feel that my water treading skills are helping me to stay afloat for longer periods.

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4 thoughts on “Somewhere in the middle

  1. It sounds to me John that you’ve weathered the worst part of your swim, you’ve gathered the skills needed to ensure you keep your head above water at least, and now after being able to reflect both backward and forward I’m sure you’ll find those skills improve enough for you to ensure you become master of this difficult environment.

    A piece of writing I really enjoyed and can empathise with.

  2. Rest assured, I can see you over there amongst the ripples and waves, John. I’m paddling away just upstream (or possibly down, not sure, but who cares!). The current doesn’t get any better over here, but you maybe gain the confidence to look around a bit & take in the view! This week, I will be heading into that next set of rapids, though, so deep breath!

    Nicely done!

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