We zoomed down the highway, the tall buildings of Philadelphia on both sides of the car, bridges casting shadows on the car every time we passed underneath a cross street. Anyone familiar with Philadelphia knows about the Vine Street expressway, a highway that zooms right through the city and drops you off on i95. I sat in the passenger seat thinking about my life, wondering where all of my decisions would take me. Wondering why life can be so harsh and violent, even when everything around you is calm. Introspective thoughts are not uncommon for anyone, but they’re more common to those who know about the dark days that come when depression is a part of your life. When you’ve witnessed powerful storms on days when everyone else sees beautiful sunshine, you tend to think more deeply about life and what it has to offer you.
See, feeling like life is worthless is normal to those who battle against the dark clouds of depression. It’s not the result of some pessimistic worldview, or a negative proclivity. It’s something much deeper, but something I will leave to medical experts to explain. This pull on my mind, heart and body have been present as long as I can remember. There are some things we have memories of, far beyond anything else. Lows are something that stick in my mind, placing themselves parallel to many of my earliest memories of life. I’m used to this. This has been my life. As a child I would wonder what life’s purpose was, thinking deeply about why should I continue to fight against this incredibly strong feeling that all is worthless.
The car we were riding in pulled off of i95 and after a couple stoplights, a U-turn and some bumpy roads, we were at our destination. Graffiti Pier near the Kensington section of Philadelphia. We started down the heavily walked path to a new destination, ready to see what the chosen location would offer us. I had low expectations, but that’s a story for another day. As we approached, a man sitting on the pathway looked up and smiled, I smiled back. I felt welcomed. I looked at what sat in from of him, I smiled from ear to ear, immediately knew the decision was right, lifted my camera and snapped a photo.
There are moments that confirm that we’ve found something that makes life worth living, and this was one of those moments. If not for a lifetime, for a moment. This is why I mentioned finding “A Thing” as opposed to finding “Your Thing.” I have not had the pleasure of knowing the ONE thing that makes life worth living, but I have found A Thing. Something that makes me forget the frightening lows, if just for a moment.
We explored Graffiti Pier and I pressed the shutter button on my camera around 170 times in the hour and a half that we were there. I sat. I explored. I enjoyed. I thought and thought deeply. I realized that I had found one of those things. Though shooting for a few years now, I have more recently found how this art can aid me in my low moments. Some days during lows, I’m prohibited by weakness from even pulling my body out of bed, but on this day, my camera acted as a strong arm lifting me up past my exhaustion.
I’ve found “A Thing.” Walking through Graffiti Pier in Philadelphia, PA with my camera in hand, I was reminded, in a moment where life was pounding heavily on me, that there are some things that make life worth living.
I hope deeply that you can find something that does the same...