A Fresh Start

Writing Table (by StarbuckGuy)

This is a photo of my new writing space. It was previously a sprawling computer workstation area, surrounded by scanners and an inkjet printer, but we consolidated our two desktop PC’s into one unit on the other side of our office, leaving me this space to write. I wanted a place at home where I could sit, shut the door if necessary, and concentrate on writing for as long as I remained productive.

Previously I did most of my writing while sitting in Starbucks, as part of my daily walk. I write well in coffee shops, but the Starbucks is busy and I’m uncomfortable staying for long periods of time, taking a table from the other patrons. So my writing has been done in bursts. And because it’s also a gathering place for many of my photographer friends, I often end up socializing rather than writing.

So this marks a new start, and it’s appropriately symbolic because today (April 22) is the first anniversary of my open-heart surgery. I’ve spent the past year recovering from a double-bypass operation. Only recently have I felt I was returning to normal. It’s been an up-and-down recovery and a little worrisome because the cardiologists and the literature suggest that most people feel back to normal within six months. I didn’t.

This in turn led to depression, which I’m also dealing with. My family doctor reassured me that many of his patients take a year or more to recover from the surgery, but despite understanding that at a rational level, I worried that I might never get well again.

During the past year I’d slipped into the habit of sleeping in late, and casually getting active in the morning, often not dressed and ready for a walk until after noon. In part I had little control over this, and sleep was highly important. Lately, though, I’ve begun some military-like discipline, getting up if I wake early — anywhere between 5 and 6:30 — getting dressed immediately and going for a power walk before breakfast. No stopping at Starbucks, though I carry a camera with me and occasionally stop to take a shot.

The result, combined with the natural healing of my body, is that I’m feeling better and more energetic through the rest of the day. This in turn should help with the writing.

I’ve not been able to shake the depression, but I have many very good days to every bad one, and I’m working with a psychiatrist to help me evaluate my condition and adjust my antidepressant medications when I require changes in dosages. Depression is a terrible disease — one I’ve come to understand first hand and I’m now very empathetic to anyone who is afflicted. Depression is a common condition, I’m told, among cardio patients.

But that aside, I feel I’m having a fresh start in life as I near my 64th birthday. You think a lot on death when you’ve been through major coronary issues, and one of the things that does is help you achieve perspective on what is important in your life.

Family and friends top the list, of course, but I also value creative work more highly than ever. My writing has taken a creative turn. I’m reaching beyond technology writing into creative nonfiction and even some fiction and poetry. I don’t know where this will take me, and I don’t have a particular goal other than to follow the desire to write creatively and to photograph creatively.

Hence the new writing space is symbolic of a fresh start, and a new adventure in life. It’s never too late to start fresh. Somewhere in each of us, I truly believe, are muses willing to work with us, if we learn to listen to them. Call it subconscious or unconscious, or call it tapping into special areas of the brain, or even something new-agey if that’s your schtick — what it’s called matters little, as long as we listen.

I figure a good place to start is right here, at a simple desk, with a southern exposure. Pen and paper ready. Netbook on standby. Dictionaries at the side. The Muses whispering. Everything set to take those important steps into the world of imagination.

nine-muses (by StarbuckGuy)

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About Gene Wilburn

Gene Wilburn is a writer ~ photographer ~ humanist
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7 Responses to A Fresh Start

  1. JohnB says:

    I know what you mean about a work space strewn with the computer detritus that collects — almost unbidden — and accumulates until Something Has To Be Done.

    At present: Nothing Has Been Done here. Yet. But I hope to use you as a role model (just don’t tell V that I’ve actually thought about it).

    The muses are fine (and I like the link to their history – but I challenge the spelling of “Terpsihore”) but it has always seemed to me that we really needed one additional muse: one who holds the world at bay to let the other nine work their magic. You have clearly found her — let me gently remind that even in kindergarten we were told to play well with others and to share.

    On a more personal note, I think your recent resolve to arise when you awake is evidence that you are taking control of your depression. Doing something — doing anything! — is a key step. Doing something — doing anything — *again* is the next key step. Buying me a latte on Friday is the third one!

  2. WeeDram says:

    With muses like those … Seriously, I take the photo of the writing space as inspiration, as I said on flickr.

    I wasn’t aware that the bypass surgery had been on the 22nd, which of course is Earth Day but is my daughter’s birthday as well. I love the serendipity of that, the connection between somthing and people people so precious to me.

    I know ddwpression all too well, but only recently understood that my own cardio issues played a part in reactivating depression that had been largely dealt with. That you have discovered the important role of movement and physical activity is certainly a good thing, and another point I will re-integrate into my routine.

    I have one more thought, but I will save that for a private email.

  3. WeeDram says:

    Sorry for the typos … “Touch typing”

  4. Jarrett says:

    Anything I should do if I think I have ‘atypical’ depression?

  5. Gene says:

    Jarrett,

    If you haven’t already, the first thing to do is consult with your family physician. Other than that, the usual. Exercise daily, eat well, and do things that make you happy.

    There’s a very good book called The Mindful Way through Depression.

  6. Jarrett says:

    Might I borrow that book from you? I flipped through it at Chapters, but it was almost $30. I could already relate to it owning “Being Peace” by Thich Nhat Hanh and I’ve had the I-Ching for about a decade. I started running this week and got about 3km according to Google maps; the day prior I almost felt like puking, but today was great. It’s great to make running goals, though they can seem a little ambitious once you start. I usually go up Stavebank to Mineola, then over to Hwy10 and the Starbucks after the bridge makes that about 3km.

    I think it’s a fact that your mood affects photography. You stop seeing the whole picture and things get cluttered or confused. I noticed myself I see a lot more opportunity when I feel good. Are you going to Starbucks tomorrow morning Gene? I’d like to do a morning shoot and you being there will persuade me.

  7. Gene says:

    Hi Jarrett,

    Unfortunately it’s not mine to lend. My son is using it in conjunction with some sessions he’s taking. He thinks highly of the book. Have you checked the library system? There may be a copy there.

    I can’t predict when I’ll be out and about tomorrow. I’m going through a bit of a sleepless spell and if I finally sleep through, it may be later in the day for me.

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