ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, border crossers, narco-bad guys, and human smuggling punks. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His work has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, Publishers Weekly, Peter Straub, Joe Lansdale, Jonathan Maberry, Kevin J. Anderson, Tim Lebbon and Christopher Golden. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character.They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter.

Monday, March 12, 2012

One picture a day - A Life After Death

Jamie Livingston is dead.

I never knew him.

The chance of us ever crossing paths while he was alive was as improbable as seeing the inside of the girl's gymnasium at Brown University. Yet we crossed paths after his death. A twitter led me to a page, which led me to a picture, which led me back to a page, which led me to google.
1st Pic - I wonder who she was

Jamie seemed to be quite the man.

He was born in 1956 and died in 1997 of cancer. Of immense interest is that 'between March 31, 1979 and October 25, 1997, the day of his death, he took a single picture nearly every day with a Polaroid SX-70 camera. Livingston's 'Polaroid a Day' photographic diary started at Bard College and though some photos have gone missing from the collection, 6,697 Polaroids remain. (Cite)"

According to his friend Lewis Schaffer in his March 12th eulogizing blog A Message a Dead Friend Left with 6500 Photos, Jamie never took more than one picture each day. Just one. It didn't matter what was going on. It didn't matter where he was.

1984ish - She looks so determined
I couldn't help but wonder what it was that motivated Jamie to take the pictures. Why take one picture and not another? Did he hold out as long as he could in the hopes that he'd get something cool, or did he take a snap right away and regret it when he missed something later on? Or maybe he just knew it. Maybe he was so sure it was the right picture that it him like a jolt. It seemed to me that he had an incredible amount of confidence and courage. In my writing sometimes I wait for that perfect word or idea, but maybe it was there all along. Perhaps there's something to be learned from Jamie's courage.

Bards College has his entire photo collection organized as a chronological as a set that you can see. I thought about posting the last picture, but it's just too sad. So instead I borrowed the photo from the first day of 1997, the year of his death. I look at the people in the photo and I wonder if they knew that Jamie had cancer. Clearly taken in the wee hours of the morning, right after celebrating the New Year, is that expression in their eyes one of tiredness, or is it that they've been clobbered by the inevitability of it all and know that their friend and companion won't make it through the year. The answer, of course, is a private one, but I can see a little of me in each of them.

I'm glad I followed the rabbit hole to the life of Jamie Livingston.

Jamie was quite the man.

Did I tell you he was in the circus?

I wished I'd known you Jamie.

(Btw, I was introduced to this by a simple twitter from Sarah Pinburough. Thanks Sarah.)

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