Photo of Doom!

There’s nothing quite like a photograph to make you see yourself through different eyes, and it never ceases to amaze me how vastly different the perception is from what you see in the mirror. The camera tells an unspeakable, unforgiving truth; one that you cannot argue with. Last night I faced my own mortality thanks to a certain photo taken that day.

I spent yesterday with two friends on a day trip to Southwold beach. It’s a place none of us had been before, and my bezzie and I do like to always try somewhere new. As the weather has been so gorgeous, we thought we’d capitalise on it and treat ourselves to a day out of the office. We had lunch on the pier and a Mr Whippy on the beach, paddled in the sea, soaked up the sun; the usual seaside itinerary. It was a lovely day, good fun in the car, singing, laughing, and much joviality; a very relaxing and joyful day; until I got home.

My good friend, of many years, sent me three photos from the day. Two of them were of me sitting on the beach, they were pleasant enough. I had given her strict instructions to only capture an image of me from the neck up (as I do with everyone.) The other one absolutely scared me to death. I was lying on my blanket, arms outstretched, relaxing, oblivious to all; and in this sleepy state, eyes closed……I look like I’m dead. Like a corpse. I don’t look like I’m relaxing happily; I genuinely look like I am dead. Perhaps it’s the unfortunate shadows cast across my face making my skin look grey, maybe it’s because there’s just so much of me that my face contorts when gravity takes hold. Either way, it made me sick. It made me feel like my spirit had just risen from my fleshy vessel and I was looking down at my dead self. That picture wouldn’t be out of place if it had been taken of me in my coffin. I have never felt such an intense sense of my own mortality until that point; and I have never wanted to stay alive more than in that moment.

As I sobbed, looking at my seemingly lifeless body, I suddenly thought about all those times, over bygone years, that I’ve spent in depressions, wishing my life away, wanting to die, and contemplating ending my days. In that image I had my wish and it petrified me. I no longer have any desire to end my days nor do I want my days to end; I certainly don’t want my days to end looking so oversized, or as a result of it. I’ve never had as big a kick up the arse as that single photo has given me. I’ve never seen anything so hideous in my life. If ever my motivation to change falters…..I just need to look at that picture.

It was quite a timely awakening as tonight, a friend and I are going to take part in a Bootcamp with one of my heroes, Jessie Pavelka. I love what that man does for people, the way he helps them transform their lives. In my fantasy, he takes me under his wing, his new project if you will; and keeps in touch until I am at my goal. In reality, just meeting him will give me the boost I need and I can take from it enough to reinforce my desire to lose this physical baggage whenever my resolve weakens; which it all too often does.

Apart from the weight issue, the picture wasn’t unlike Scrooge being visited by one of his ghosts; depicting what it would be like to see life after you’ve passed over. As distraught as it made me, it was also quite a gift. In that shockwave of emotions and thoughts that overwhelmed me, I was granted clairvoyance; a vision of my future that I want never to become a true eventuality. That person will not be my future. My path instantaneously altered it’s course as I opened the file on my mobile phone. When the time comes that I really do exit my body and peer down at myself it will be that of a thin, wrinkly, ancient old prune with an accomplished smile; happily at peace.

Saying Goodbye

A final goodbye is such a peculiar hour. Today I attended the funeral of a Great Aunt. She was 94yrs old, widow to her husband who had died over four years prior. He had reached over 100yrs old; they had been married for 71yrs. They had children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. They were adorable people and a loving couple. My Great Uncle, was the sweetest, most gentile and kindest gentleman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I remember them both very fondly. As with all goodbyes, it was a sad and sombre affair, reflecting on the loss of a loved one, but also turning the focus to your own life. The reality of death makes you ask yourself if you are living enough, if you are free, if you are doing it right.

Maybe it’s my advancing years and rapid approach to midlife, but at this service I found myself worrying about my own inevitable funeral. Should I live to a ripe(ish) age, the generations before me will likely be gone. As I have no children of my own and am never likely to, just who will be left to see me off? I won’t be remembered as that loving matriarch who had the longevity of a harmonious married life; a soulmate; a family. Okay so, by the time I die, if fate is in my favour, I may have my soulmate, I may even have that longevity of marriage, but I won’t have the family. I have never been that way inclined.

It struck me as odd today that I’m not pro motherhood, personally. I am missing the maternal gene, yet I have so much love to give, so much compassion; I think I’d make an awesome mum. All bar one of my cousins have ever growing families of their own. Despite being older than some of them I remain partnerless, marriageless and childless. It filled me with a desperate fear that I may truly end up alone; with merely a few blue rinses from the bingo at my funeral, mostly happy that with one less player there’ll be more money in the winnings pot for them.

There’s not a great deal I can do about that. Some of us are meant for certain things, others…not so much. One can only hope that at my final goodbye, no matter who is left behind, that if I am thought of half as much as those that have gone before me, I must be doing something right.

One can only hope.