Weston Ochse is the author of more than twenty books, most recently SEAL Team 666 and its sequels Age of Blood and Reign of Evil, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable Lists.' His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with 30 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.

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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