The Suicidal Mind

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0195118014/ref=redir_mdp_mobile#

As most of you have heard another celebrity has died at his own hand. In the coming days, Robin Williams’s life will be placed under a microscope and dissected for the world.

But, I really don’t want to talk about him. Instead the suicidal mind itself.
Many, if not all of us have been touched by depression at some point. It’s a natural occurrence in the human condition. Yet as with most things there is a myriad of levels that we experience this condition. Labeling it all depression is like equating a red delicious apple to a Granny Smith. They are apples, yes, but one bite tells you that they are totally different in every other concern.

Additionally we have all had fleeting thoughts of ending our own lives. These are usually temporary reactions to current situations, which if we acknowledge them at all we let pass. Most of us won’t speak of these thoughts. We won’t admit to the world (and sometimes ourselves) that we ever could be so “weak”.

We just want the pain to stop and for most of us, our brain let’s us. We each grieve in our own way and timeframe, but then our brains change our chemistry and we move on. The darkness lifts and we have come out the other side, changed but alive and able to experience life.

What fascinates me [and terrifies me] is the suicidal mind. Unlike many illnesses we are born with this type of disease isn’t necessarily congenital. It doesn’t have to be passed down from parent to child. It can kick in at anytime as if it were always there lurking under the surface if happiness, waiting–waiting for the right trigger to set it off and once unleashed the brain will be at constant war with itself. The balance and harmony in it’s make up is gone and each day is a new test if wills.

One day we may find a truly genetic components which makes us vulnerable to this unbalanced chemistry, but for now it is wrapped in mystery. In some cultures it was revered in others seen as a consummate failure.

Stories are written with it as an ending point of either glory or justice. Yet it is neither. It is harder than you think to commit suicide, even when it was custom like Hari Kari. Or when you know it’s to save yourself from a more brutal eminent death. It still is not easy, the emotions that run through the mind make the moments leading up to death an eternity.

Does the suicidal mind really see death as a sweet release? Does it even comprehend anything beyond ending the pain? Do all other emotions and consequences become secondary?

At what level does the pain and depression become so unbearable that this becomes the answer?

Suicide has touch my life in friends who have died or attempted and failed. I’ve seen others chase death through the bottle or dangerous behaviors, knowing that death is very much a factor. I always wonder if there is a link between the addicted mind and the suicidal mind, as many if known drown themselves in addiction to fight off suicidal thoughts and pain.

They end up calling their deaths “accidents” or overdoses etc. but, really I wonder if they aren’t taking a prolonged suicidal route. My father drank to forget. When he was sober he lived with pain and thoughts of pain I am glad I never discovered. Yet, he never pulled the trigger on his gun. I wonder though how many times he thought to do so.

I see the pain left behind a suicide and I always wonder how bad it was, how dark was their soul that they could think that the pain they left behind was acceptable. I wish I will never know.

I wish no one else could ever know.

Maybe some day that wish will come true.

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👵When did i get so old?

There was a time when traipsing through train stations with my world on my back, negotiating maps and streets and hiking through hills, farmlands and forests to get to my goal would not make me so tired.

I would never win athlete of the year, but I could certainly rebound in a day or so and be my plucky self. But! on this trip maybe it’s the clean country air, or the quiet when the church bells or artillery practice aren’t sounding that have coaxed me into such a sleepy feeling…. No! Wait! It’s none of those things! It her

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The doggie siren of sleep! She snuggles up to you and lays her nose under your chin, so warm and soft. She pats you with her tiny paw as if to say “Sleep human, you want to sleep”

And you know what? I do. What wicked sorcery is this that a tiny 10 pound creature can have such an effect on me? She would like nothing more than getting me to stop working and curl up in the sun with her. If only I were on holiday I would. As it is, I return home and curl up exhausted, her paws wrapped around one hand.

The ultimate secret weapon, cuddly dachshunds!

Ordinary Days

It’s been a very long time since I celebrated Father’s Day. I vaguely remember buying my dad old spice when I was four.

However, that didn’t stop me from recognizing some great dads that were in my life. Two that I have fond memories of are Mr. Struppa and Mr. Riera. The fathers of my best school friends.

We have all heard “It takes a village.” And it does. These two men showed me what it was to be a loving father to children. Both had big families, both loved their wives immensely and both wanted the best for me.

Unfortunately, Mr. Struppa has passed on and I’ve lost touch with the Rieras but I will always thank them for helping shape my childhood.

Restless mind

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It’s 7:30 am here in the city. It’s strangely quiet for a Thursday. Or maybe my hearing is less acute from lack of sleep, I’m not sure.

Sugar is softly humming a pleasant sleepy snore; the turtles are lazy not quite sure if they want to wake; and the house is still dark silent. The birds and cars echo from beyond the walls, but no one else inside stirs.

I’ve been up all night arranging and scheduling the details of next week, lining up contacts and particulars on shoots, transportation and tickets. Markus is working on some time to get together and I’ve done all I can on my iPhone.

The next steps are my lists. Lists of what to bring, what to leave behind, info and contacts, as well as projects I know will go undone while I am gone.

And, the whole time I’ve been doing this, there has been a gnawing in my stomach. The feeling of being split. Do I follow what could be a huge opportunity for me and trust that Dee won’t fuck things up? I want to go. I need to go, yet I keep remembering my last trip to Germany and what awaited me on my return.

Can I trust her to have any strength, any resolve at all? Someone told me recently that she is clinging to me like a life preserver, desperate to keep this odd co-dependency in tact. But, what happens to me in the process? What happens to mom. The knots tighten in my stomach at the thought.

It is so strangely sad, this feeling of distrust, that I can’t be comfortable leaving mom alone with her now. I sit and wonder how things have spun so out of control and second guess my decision to go.

I wish I felt better about leaving, I wish the sister I knew so long ago was here. Or that mom was strong enough to deal with her if she melts down. Do wishes ever come true? I don’t know.

This feeling has thrown an ambivalent blanket over my excitement for this trip. Not even being asked to do my first solo album cover seems to give me a rush.

Maybe I will feel different on the plane. Maybe I will breathe if mom FaceTime’s me with an “all’s quiet.” Maybe then I can enjoy this….maybe.
Do wishes come true?

Coming through the fire: Remembering D-day

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Today is the 70th anniversary of a key battle in WWII, D-Day. This battle marked the end of the Totalitarian regime of Hitler. Although, it would take another year of fighting before the war would end.

So many lives were lost on this day, so much bloodshed and so much pain. This is a somber day for all who survived, for all those who are still alive and can share their story of one of the bloodiest battles in the war.

Listen to the stories from soldiers on both sides. They do not discuss politics, they do not discuss who is right and who is wrong. Their stories are in the moment. They talk about bloodshed, loss, killing. The images of that day a burnt into their minds and souls. When they sleep, they return to it. When it’s quiet the screams echo in their ears.

For the Allies, winning the war is little compensation for the burdens that they took away from the beach that day. For the German alliance the shame of losing only amplifies the pain suffered.

When it boils down to a single battle, the ultimate winners and losers are not what matters it’s that split second when your adrenaline is pumping, when your eyes see, but your brain can’t absorb the horror. It’s that moment when you swallow your fear and you training takes over like an auto pilot on a plane. It’s the smell of the sea mixed with diesel fumes, the acrid scent of gunpowder, and the high metallic perfume of spilled blood.

No one escaped that day. No one was a mere spectator. Some of their wounds are visible but for all the worst are not.

Remember D-day for freedom, for the end of the war, but remember the soldiers who fought because they had no choice. Remember them as example of what hell truly means.
And remember all the horrors of this war as an example of why we can not allow this to happen again.

We are already forgetting, we are already allowing genocide to occur. Don’t dishonor all those who fought to stop this in WWII.

I admire the German people of today. Humbled by the past, they are determined not to repeat it. We need to do the same, no race is worthy of annihilation. No single country should dominate and forcefully invade another peaceful country in the name of expansion. If you have a voice, honor those who could not speak, stand up for justice and for the freedom to live.

In honor of Anthony “link” Cedrone rest in peace, tin can soldier.

What will you give?

What will you give to witness a transformation?

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What would you give to see a people who are no longer villains or victims?

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How much is it worth to see a rebirth?

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This summer I will be in Germany photographing this new country and people born from the cinders of history.

Meet the new faces of Germany in our global economy.

Make a pledge today, time is running out to fund this poignant and enlightening photo book project!

Memorial Day Changes…

As you know I am a military brat from a military family whose service can be traced back to the Civil War. Since then there has been at least one if not many more of my family involved in every conflict/war the US has been involved in. Many of my ancestors reached high ranks in the Navy, but we have also had family in every branch of the military. We are a family who truly understands that freedom is not free, but born on the backs of the men and women who live and die to protect it.

We have a special connection to WWII. Partly because the name Welling still holds records in the navy, but also those very same men were German themselves. Their grandfather came here to build a better life, fought in the civil war and saw the rest of his family return to Germany as they missed the farming lands of home. His only sister became a professor at Heidelberg University. She and the family remained there through the dark times of Germany. No one knows what happened to those family members during the war, although we are trying to trace them.

My family felt the stigma of our german heritage in those days and I grew up watching all or most of the villains in movies being German. I was born nearly 30 years after the war ended but I was born in Germany and endured being called a Nazi by many grade school children who thought it was funny. I was asked if my family (Americans) were nazis or holocaust survivors. I even had one teacher ask if my mother was a Germany war bride. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood that celebrated their heritage despite the fact that Italy aligned itself with Germany. My German heritage took a back seat to my Irish side for in Boston you could always find the Irish.

As I grew older and more interested in my German ancestry, I wonder where all the German Americans were. There are approximately 75,000 scattered throughout Massachusetts, yet it’s hub and capital, Boston has only on german restaurant.

When I returned to Germany in the ’90’s and several times over the last 5 years, I found nothing of the caricatures we see in the media. Just warm, funny people who have been humbled by history yet have rebuilt a country and a life out of the ashes.

When I looked around I didn’t see holocaust survivor or nazis that escaped punishment, but people. People who had the same worries and
Concerns that we do. I have seen their remarkable resilience of a people who rebuilt a shattered world. This gave me the idea for an art project to show the world the people I see.

I will be traveling to Germany this summer for work and study. While there I will photograph the remarkable people, events and emotions that fuel this new Germany.

I hope to produce a photo book of these pictures and could use your support in getting it produced I have just 2 days left to meet my goal, please make a pledge today!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1222109235/collective-thoughts-my-german-summer