I hate summer. Not the season so much, but the adverse effects it has on my working life. First there’s the weather. Schlepping gear from one random incident to another is labor in any climate, but when a wet blanket of humidity wraps around your every pore whenever you walk outside, it is downright torturous. Then there’s the ratio effect. Simply put, when the reporters outnumber the photographers, I get called in to even the score. This happens a lot during the summer months when fellow photogs selfishly go on ‘vacation’ - thus shaking me out of my soft news coma and onto the front lines of the newsgathering war. Suddenly, I’m threading a live truck through interstate traffic, staring at the bug stains on the windshield and asking myself for the millionth time ‘Is this all there is?’
I know, I know - every human pushing 40 asks this question. I’ve been pondering the matter for a few years now. Leaning against the back wall of a county commissioners' meeting, wedged in the shotgun seat of a police cruiser, skirting the perimeter of a school auditorium; it doesn’t matter where I am. Call it Viewfinder BLUES - the nagging feeling that you’ve framed up this shot a thousand times over and you don’t wants to do it no mo’. But repetition at a breakneck pace is a cornerstone of TV news, I tell myself. Add a good dose of artifice and a smattering of facts and you have my chosen profession. Things didn’t seem so bleak at the starting line, when I was younger, reckless and not entirely of sound mind. Back then, the daily chase was intoxicating stuff - these days it feels like the final hangovers of a drunk on the verge of rehab.
Melodramatic? Perhaps, but these are the undiluted thoughts of a 38 year old photog as he goes about the act of repeating himself to death. Maybe that’s what happens when you mine one of your loves for career possibilities. Before you know it, you’ve transformed passion into occupation until you can’t remember why you were ever so intrigued in the first place. Pretty bleak, eh? Don’t worry - there’s no need to hide the cutlery. I’m just deleting files in my mental inbox - right-clicking mass copies of the same damn riddle and trying desperately to drag them to the cerebral trashcan. Okay, I’ll ditch the metaphors and dumb it down for you folks in cheap seats: I love what I do - in theory. But the practiced application of said duties is wearing thin - eroding my shoe leather, my lower back and my soul. It’s what happens when you spend your life processing the trials and tribulations of others. You sometimes forget to live your own.
Speaking of life, I’m full of it (full of shit, some of you might say). As much as this post sounds like the tortured exhortations of a doomed madman, it’s merely the reflections of a weary lenslinger. Still, I’m excited - as I’m growingly convinced I’m on the cusp of something greater than TV news. What that is exactly still escapes me, but one thing is undeniably obvious: life’s too damn short to ride around in a live truck full of regret. It ain’t just the humidity talkin’ either. I first viewed edge of the precipice two and a half years ago, while pacing through the blackened slush of a icy overpass while a co-worker in a station parka yammered into the lens about salt trucks and school closings. I knew it that day as I know it now: Act II is long overdue. In a way, this very blog is my first few hesitant steps onstage.
Either that, or I’m having a mother of a mid-life crisis.