Before the walk even started, I could feel it coming. I resisted the urge to back out, though, and I did make it through the whole walk and the lunch after, and I don’t think I came off too strange to other participants.

What follows is a text I sent to a very old and dear friend, with whom I’ve had little contact in many years. Why I picked her to vent to, I have no idea. I think because she’s one of the only humans I trust completely. Thank you, Orange.

I’m in Downtown Dallas, taking part in a global photowalk. 1000s of people around the world are walking and shooting today.

The Fear got me early on, and I separated from the group I was with. I had to buy a pack of cigarettes. Actually, two packs of cigarettes (shitty ones at the 7-11 that I left on the counter in the fancy tobacconist around the corner).*

I can’t believe how afraid I am, how wholly inadequate I feel.

Deep breaths, James.

Nothing will hurt me, but everyone can plainly see how broken and suspect I am.

2 hours, plus lunch with the group to go. I don’t know how I’m going to make it, but I have to keep going. I purposefully wandered far from the car.

If that sounds a bit crazy to you, it does to me too. And I’ve been home for 4 hours, but have yet to relax. I’m not shaking and having trouble breathing any longer, but I can feel the tension.

Anyway, after I sent the text, I decided to try to capture the deep anxiety I felt. I don’t know if this picture really conveys it, but it’s close. All the background elements are clearly distracting from the subject, much like the fear distracted me from the purpose and goals of the walk. The variety of colors and shapes, and the swirling movement seem to me to depict the various contradictory fears and doubts that take over when I panic like this.

Does the picture work as I hoped? I’m not sure. It seems to me that it could be read as a pretty painting or something. Either way, I believe much of art to lie in the reception of the work, and less in the intent of the ‘artist,’ though I know some critics and historians would disagree vehemently, so please take it however you like.

I’m proud of myself for sticking with the walk, and for going through the whole thing. My hope is that I can keep pushing myself and find a way to get over this fear, but I think I’ll be taking smaller steps for awhile.

D7000. Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. ISO100, 1/640th (ap mode), f/1.8, -1EV. About 5 minutes of processing in Aperture to really bring out the terror.

*I smoked two fancy cigarettes and left the pack with a homeless gentleman who asked if I had one to spare. One? I had 18 for him: I don’t smoke.

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