Yesterday I had the privilege of going to the ‘Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art’ in downtown Indianapolis to see a wonderful Ansel Adams retrospective. For those who do not know Ansel Adams is a primarily known for his amazing landscape photography of the west. However the retrospective did show have some people oriented pictures. Two of my favorites were Camper Park Children and a fabulous picture of Georgia O’Keef. Pictured below:
(note: both pictures were captured from publicly available online databases so I believe they are eligible for publication here, however the rights for printed images belong to the Adams Trust and cannot be printed on paper without their consent. However both were for sale at the Ansel Adams gift shop and can likely be purchased for a very reasonable price by contacting the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis IN)
For Adams to take these photos meant he had to step outside his profile as a photographer and thus outside his comfort zone. Yet he did it and he allowed these photos to be published. Imagine if you will the incredible courage to do so. It is almost unfathomable to me that he would risk his professional reputation to include them in this retrospective collection. What I failed to mention is that before his death, Adams himself selected these prints for this collection.
We as diabetics are initially called on to make lots of big changes in lifestyle, life path, and time lines. For me it was as if someone gave me a shot of adrenaline that sped me up to warp speed. At 17, I was immediately confronted with going so fast I had little choice but to go fast, and run hard. The last thing I had in my mind at 17 was time. I had maybe 30 years of life available to work, achieve, accomplish, help my family be secure, and yes have fun.
I went so fast it was incredible. I was in High school and I started drinking and that lasted for two years. I was in enrolled in college, and off I went. At age 38, I sat in my brand new office of City Controller and I had everything I ever wanted. But I was not dead and I was still working. I figured I had maybe 10 more years. In this 10 year period I switched jobs twice and at age 48 one child in college and one out. I still wasn’t dead or so sick I could not work.
I had to make a change and like I imagined it must have been for Ansel Adams making that change was difficult. If I continued I knew I would be in serious trouble. It took six more years and finally my body gave out. Not because of diabetes, the thing I feared, rather because of Rheumatoid Arthritis the thing I never saw coming. When a man wraps everything he has into work losing it all is awful.
My wife has often wondered, what might have happened, had I not ran so hard so fast? What if I had relaxed smelled a rose or two? Would my life have been better? My work life, which I obviously valued so highly, been longer? Would my relationships been more solid? The answer is of course yes. My life would have likely been longer, my work life longer; my sons might have been closer to me.
Do I regret my past? Of course, I love my sons and wife more than I can ever express, but when I had to leave work I knew I loved it as least as much. Yet my work was all gone. I cannot even look at what I did and be proud. I am not ashamed; I just don’t find happiness in it. I am torn that someday I will want to show my grandchildren what I was and when that time comes, what will I show them? Buildings I caused to be built? Neighborhoods I improved? Streets I caused to be built? Or can I show them their dads, my relationship with their grandma, the face of their great grandparents? It is after all the people who matter and believe it or not one cannot speed up those relationships. Yes I used to love the legacy of the five schools I caused to be built. But today I cannot even look at them and be proud, only sad.
Like I imagine Ansel Adams must have felt, changes were difficult for me. For me it took RA. For Ansel Adams who knows what it might have taken to publish these pictures? For me it was an excruciating problem to change. I trust Mr. Adams found it easier, after all these are remarkable pictures.