9 April

Coming Back To Life, Six Pounds Lighter, One Long Day Older

by Jon Katz
 I get a dozen messages that lift me and make my heart swell a bit for every cruel and nasty one. I got one this morning from Dan Dugar, who I have never met but saw as a friend.
   I don’t know much about wine, but I appreciate the comparison. Much of aging is beyond our control, but I do control the way I look at it, and I see it as a ripening time, along with everything else. I finally know something and can share a bit of it.
   I am coming to terms with who I am and liking me more.
 I’m pleased with the way  I am aging and grateful to be able to share the experience honestly, the good and the bad.
  These days, I think it’s essential to ride out the nastiness, anger, and dishonesty that is infecting our country. I believe it will pass.
  I don’t see many doctors, but I make the visits count. Next week, I see the cardiologist who has meant so much to me and my recovery, Dr. Daraban. It’s been months.
   The world is complex and almost always in turmoil.
Hate messages are now a regular part of my life. The better I get, the more some people hate me for it. That’s now who we are and not who I will permit myself to be.
   All I can control is me, and Dan’s message helps affirm me in my work, thoughts, and values. It is so important to be gentle and good to one another now.
   “Jon, I hope you are feeling better soon.
You’re just like good wine….the older you get, the better you’re blogging. “I used to joke about people who were always at the doctor, and now, I am one of them…..   Wow!”
    Jon, your pictures keep getting better and better…
Do you think it’s just the tripod? I think it’s that, and you’ve got your good friend George Forss’ karma looking down on you…..!  IMHO. Get well soon, Dan Dugar.”
   Thanks, Dan; what you said about George Forss is accurate and timely.
   Yesterday, as I went outside for a few minutes to breathe some fresh air, I thought of George, the brilliant photographer friend who died recently, and what he taught me.
   I don’t think it’s the tripod, Dan; I didn’t use it much yesterday; I think it’s a new willingness to learn, keep learning, and experiment. I’m no longer afraid to know or understand; that is the difference if there is one.
    George became famous for his New York City Skyscraperscapes, but he struggled to figure out the rural landscape where he came to live. I’ve found the big sky is helping me see this landscape.
    But he shaped my photography in many ways; he taught me to understand that one can take a good picture of almost anything; it’s what I see, not what the camera sees. George didn’t know how to take a good picture, but we both shared a conviction that our photography was very important to us. He encouraged me by praising my photos and telling me I was a natural.
   And he also told me to think about every picture, which is hard for me because it means I need to slow down. I’m still getting that message from younger teachers and listening to it.
     I realize that taking a good photograph is not simple; you do have to think about it; there is much more I have to learn. Progress is slower than I would like and takes a lot more work than I thought, but I will stick with it and, hopefully, keep improving.
     Yesterday was hellish; I got sick and remembered little and slept for hours and hours. Whenever I felt sorry for myself, I thought of the awful suffering in Ukraine. Maria took this photo of me, I like it.
    The best part of the day was going outside to sit in my new Adirondack chair with Maria. The sun came out briefly.
   Then back to sleep. I got some lovely photos sitting out there, making me think of George. I think that began my recovery.
   This morning, I woke up around 5:50, demanding to take Maria out for breakfast. No way, she said, you are resting today. So I will. She’s pretty tough when she wants to be. And she’s right, after breakfast I got tired again.
   It is a rainy day; Ian the shearer comes back to finish the shearing this afternoon.
     I’ll wade into one of my exciting new books and doze. I lost six pounds yesterday, which is a bit surprising to me.
    Zinnia lay by my feet all day, a comfort. She is such a sweetheart.
Drink a lot of water, is what they say. I drank a small river yesterday.
    Thanks, Dan, for helping me get started today. I appreciate it. More later.


  1. I have a dog who sits with me when I’m sick. I spent all day at the vet with her yesterday. She had an abscess. Appointments were booking 6 weeks in advance so we waited until someone could fit her in between appointments. I never questioned this use of time. She sits with me when I’m sick, so I sit with her.

  2. On Saturday or Sunday evening, I watch Father Brown on PBS. I have thought that he reminds me of someone, but I couldn’t figure out who. Now I know, it’s Jon Katz the Mansion’s new chaplain. Best wishes for a continued recovery.

  3. First off, I hope you are feeling better. Losing 6 lbs. in one day (in a way that doesn’t need to be mentioned) is not pleasant. Hope you are better! And I had the biggest smile on my face seeing this photo Maria took of you! It is a VERY good one. I looked at it long and hard…..and I *see* alot in that face of yours. A bit of impishness (is that a word?) in your eyes……… and great focus and attention, and life history. It’s just lovely. Please just be more watchful when getting out on the road with your camera! (just a tiny friendly reminder- not *telling* you what to do! )
    Susan M

  4. I don’t know you personally, but I’ve read almost all your books and know a good writer when I read his/her work. I hope you can ignore the hateful messages and continue to focus on the positive ones. Your honesty about your life, your successes, and most of all your struggles, are a gift to all the rest of us who are trying to live meaningful lives in the midst of the chaos that is often modern life. Please know you are appreciated, and keep on writing!

    1. Thanks, Ann, that means a great deal to me. I will certainly keep on living my life and sharing it, surrendering to hate would be an awful legacy, I will never do it. It is very kind of you to write, it makes a difference for me.

  5. I have spent my life taking photographs. I love this one. It is a true portrait of you. I have read a lot of your books and am currently reading Izzy & Lenore. I have a stack to get to and will eventually read them all. My husband and I have had 6 dogs, 4 have had Border Collie in them. We are originally from NY. Your books really speak to me. Keep writing great books for all of us who really appreciate your work. Your photography is really good and brings your stories to life. Don’t waste any time or energy on negative people.

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