We never know what path we're going to find ourselves on in the future. I remember writing something to the effect that 'I'm just tucking in my elbows and knees in and flowing with the rapids'. I had been retired on ill health in 2006 and had disappeared to photograph Polar Bears in Canada and as I watched two males sparring on the frozen tundra, I remembered how I felt ... ALIVE!
Society has expectatitons of us to be people that always plan our careers and strive for excellence ... and I agree with being motivated ... but sometimes we need to be still within ourselves and let ourselves go with the flow. We can make our own plans and live our lives a certain way but the Universe seems to have a way of bringing us to where it wants us to be.
I was having accupuncture for my physical pain earlier today and I always meditate on such matters during the silence of the treatment. I looked at how I enjoyed photography as a youth; my photos of friends and family were always good! There were very few photos of me smiling though ... the fake smiles hid the reality of a difficult childhood.
I remember enjoying photography in my off duty hours while I served in the Royal Air Force. I remember stopping my photography after a little time in Northern Ireland as my emotions were confined to a box and buried deeper than Blackbeard's cod piece ... and I remember the days when the flame reignited my passion for the art in Cornwall. I suppose it was inevitable when you look at the beauty of the land and the Ocean down there.
Photography became my secondary occupation while I worked for the NHS in Cornwall but now it's a part of the project that keeps me active, involved and sane.
Then came the poetry: an outlet for emotions, good and bad. Written in a simple way by a simple soul to be accessible for anyone without pomp or me disappearing up my own @rse over it. I still remember how vulnerable I felt over the release of the first book 'Words of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran'. I was so stressed out because I'd opened up my soul and out it under a microscope. Why? Pure anger. I was so angered at the way that Social Services and the NHS in Nottingham had treated me when I moved into the area after leaving Cornwall. The anger was balanced out with some romantic poetry, as well as some memories of my service in RAF - but guess what the main reason was for writing the book? To raise awareness of how a Veteran that has PTSD feels about life, about his treatment at the hands of the system and the injustice of it all ... and in raising awareness there lies the hope that maybe Joe Bloggs coming back from Afghanistan or some other conflict won't be treated as badly as me.
My second book 'The Way of the Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran' continues the story and touches on the racism experienced while serving in the RAF Police and then the Metropolitan Police. It also explores lighter and happier moments ... but I don't feel as vulnerable as I did after releasing the first title.
One point I'd like to make here though is this: While we focus on people coming back from current conflicts, there are still many Veterans from WW2 onwards that still haven't received any help from the system ... that face their internal battles every day ... alone.
While working in the Citizen's Advice Bureaux Service for ten years I delivered training over a range of subjects. I took this skill forward to the NHS. I am now working on delivering workshops to raise awareness of PTSD and to demostrate certain coping mechanisms.
The project I now work on is simple and has three aims:
- To demonstrate the use of creative therapies as a coping mechanism for PTSD.
- To educate disabled artists about their Intellectual Property rights.
- To raise awareness of the condition, PTSD, so that people can recognise the symptoms and see appropriate help.
I designed new business cards and postcards last week and they arrived by courier today. The project feels like it has begun now.
You can read about the forthcoming exhibition by clicking here.
I fund my work through selling my books and photographic art. If you'd like to help me ... buy something from www.wolf-photography.com and please submit reviews and testimonails. They all help.
Have a lovely Wednesday eveing.