Monday, February 21, 2011

Scars of the Soul

Photo by Dan Denardo

This is a look at what goes on in the mind of a photog in the midst of fear.


Like shards of broken glass, the sharp sound of gun fire cuts through the silence of the night, echoes through the air, and into the abyss. I sat there on that ledge in Port Au Prince that night, surrounded by darkness, engulfed in fear unlike any I had ever felt. There's nothing more terrifying than the sound of ricochet, the possibility of being hit, the utter silence that follows and the heavy sigh that trembles out of your soul. It's a feeling you never forget.

As minutes passed and silence fell once more, I sat there on that ledge--alone, wondering what tomorrow may bring. On the eve of inevitable rioting and political unrest, for the first time in my life, I sat there in fear--not of dying or leaving the world behind, no, but fear of failure--failing in life and the person I've come to be. I had never set out to become anything in particular--only to live creatively and push the scope of my existence--for adventure, through passion. And along the way, either by fate or destiny--or maybe guilt or shame, I've managed to re-focus my lens on those less fortunate. There was a time in my life when I would stare down the barrel of my lens to capture the plight of those who suffer--without even realizing they were human. It's a guilt that is embedded in my soul.

I have seen so much of the world, yet I have felt so little. I have gone to places few can imagine, even parts of the world many never knew existed. I have seen war and death, destruction and despair. I have seen beauty when all was lost, darkness when many seemingly smiled. I've seen between the lines, the silent threats and invisible divides. I've seen, but never felt. I've captured, but never cherished.

And because of that, I am changed. I am not the man I once was. After every foreign assignment, I'd return home to an empty house, bare walls and unopened mail. When I am with my family, they no longer ask where I've been or what I've done. They no longer ask to see my work or hear my stories. It's as if I had never left. And for their own sanity, that's how they prefer it--because to them, I am that son that travels for a living, the one that goes to distant lands and daunting journeys, fending off sickness, disease and most times, danger. I am that son that parents wish they had but never want to know of--the son that parents fear would never return. And with that reality constantly in the back of my mind, I often regret living that kind of life.

As an eerie silence held a city of seven million in rapture, I sat there on that ledge contemplating about the choices I've made and the choices I should have made. The notion of fear and failure, regret and reverie lingered on my mind--making me want to scream.

Gun shots echoed in the distance.


Katherine said...

Oh Dear! I don't know what to say! I can only imagine what you've seen, experienced and lived through and all I can say is that it takes a very special man to be able to do it!
I'm not sure I would have that strength to do what you do Ron & I can certainly appreciate your need to scream.
Sorry I've not been by in a life has been anything but normal the last few months. I love the photo of you, it's fantastic!

bumatom said...

Contrasts, supper cool studio photo, keyed up form the back. There is two sides to the tale, for sure. I'm jealous, the guilt is human, reflecting truth is often a questionable career I'm sure.(for anyone doing it) Any real artist feels it, that fear. Living under those circumstances must reinforce the beauty though. In that state of suspense, one that real, rare for most people, well out west. Anyway. You rock! don't die, there ain't many people with the heart or passion to replace you. Well not as pure as yours.

Subhanjan said...

Hey Ron, How are you doing? It's been a long time since I blogged. When I went through your blog today, I felt a breath of fresh air. This post of yours were quite powerful. I could almost feel those fears as crystal clear as it would have been if I had gone through the same things. Good to see you again Ron.

The Rambler said...'s been a while. But as always YOU always hold me mesmerized by your words. Here's my question to you....if you weren't doing what you do now, would you be happy?

Mucho mucho love to you! Hope you are well. Hope that the ledge you sit on is one that you can be proud of. Because you bring things we all wouldn't have the chance to see or know or feel about.


Lorna said...

Dear Ron, you have a gift for conveying the human condition through your words and insights, as well as through your photos. I hope you write a book about your experiences...there are many who would benefit. hugs.