Requirements trump regrets

On Christmas morning the basement flooded(!). That means the darkroom is not available until the entire space is made new. I had set aside a number of days during the holiday break for shooting, roll film processing, proofing, enlarging and testing of specific procedures; now, all those activities are pretty much pushed back until later in January. A deluge does not contribute to work flow.

Compared to other picture-making, the darkroom “work flow” does not necessarily flow. True, I’ve found a way to print economically, spread out over a few days at a time, but the film developing (a joy in itself [I kid you not]) only makes sense when batched into one or two days.

What if I were to risk mold or spoilage or further water damage by going out to shoot instead of dealing with the mess, because the shooting is more pressing? Insanity. How much am I willing to leave my father and my father-in-law during their holiday visits in order to pursue some or another project? No way. Which parts of my life have to wait so that other parts may resolve themselves, only for me, at some yet-to-be-defined plane of meaning and resonance?

In one English teacher’s recent retirement speech to the rest of the faculty, he expressed what amounted to an apology to his family for the extent to which his career had consumed him and his available time. The tone of that part of his remarks was oddly unsettling (but not unwelcome, since these speeches are usually a tad more cookie-cutter). His wife and son were present; he sounded truly contrite.

Nicholas Nixon made a reference, at his last Chicago appearance at Columbia College, to being less than immersed in his children’s childhoods. It struck the same melancholy note, albeit buoyed by their eventual apparent coming to terms with his lifestyle.

As the Sean Connery character Jim Malone says in “The Untouchables,”  “You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?”

Update: I started preparing this post on the 26th, and now, (the 29th) NYT published a not-unrelated article in the Science section, written by John Tierney, about a curable human frailty: pleasure procrastination.

1 Comment

  1. Somehow your basement flood experience reminded me the saying: isn’t it great when things just work? We seem to live in a perfect world till we miss the train, our meal burns in the oven or we get trapped in a heavy shower with no umbrella at hand.

    In a way, this is fun. Otherwise, life would be very dull if everything would work to perfection. No challenges to cope with, no extra thinking to solve the new problems in sight. The unexpected events which prevent us to fullfill our plans might seem very annoying, but they help us to feel alive and always ready to cope with unforseen events.

    Well, at least that should be the theory. But one thing I have to admit: I would hate to have my basement flooded. So, be careful with the train timetable, the oven’s temperatutre and the weather forecast. And don’t forget to keep your pipes unclogged!

    Happy New Year!!!


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