I washed my hands at the sink, looked up, and was startled by this man peering back at me. The winter graylight created an accidental portrait setting, one I felt compelled to document. Bemusement, wonder, unease: all the sensations self-portraits induce in myself. Much time is spent thinking about this man I know intimately and yet not at all. Water dripped from my fingers, his fingers, as we stared at one another over less than a yard of separation. The jaguar in winter freezes at the sight of his reflection in the stream. Technology assured that it would not get away. Not this time.
Cold introspection has driven me to this set of affairs before. A few years ago, trapped inside what felt like a shrinking apartment by the worst snow storm I have ever experienced I did a series of self-portraits for lack of anything better to do. It was a method of entertainment, I suppose, but I always felt a subtle itch in my skin every time I saw the images in my library. This morning was the first time in many months that the compulsion to take another hit hard enough to spur action.
Unshaven. Unshowered. The uniform of the schlub in sweatpants and t-shirt worn out of resignation and circumstance. Perhaps one thing that drew me in was the expression in my eyes (eyes are a particular fascination of mine when it comes to people) which radiated a set of feelings for which there may be no exact word in English. Weariness? Lack of sleep? Low-grade existential anxiety? Or just plain garden-variety anxiety behind those blue-gray windows to the soul?
I seek the word for that state of mind. It must exist, it has to exist. To find such a word we must sometimes step into and outside of ourselves, cease trying to say it, and capture it with something that is worth more than the traditional thousand words. The photograph, filter and shield for this man who knows himself too well and not at all. Someday he may forget himself to meet himself anew. The camera is along as witness for the trip.