Yesterday I took the train to Antwerp and then a tram and finally arrived at my destination.
At work I am a member of the first aid team and one of four, well, I guess the best translation would be confidents. We listen and try to help colleagues who are harassed, sexually or otherwise, feel they are close to a burnout, depression or have other psychosocial problems. It is not my day job but I volunteered for both positions. I am very happy that I am not really needed but aware that this does not mean there are people with problems at work.
Anyway as a confident I have to follow yearly refreshment training.
So that is why I went to Antwerp.
I liked the change in routine. Driving every day to Brussels and enduring traffic jams becomes tiring.
After the boring legal stuff, new laws and so on, we attacked the 2015 hot item: burnout.
That topic was extremely confronting. Back in 1995 I suffered from a total burnout followed by a severe depression.
It took me more than 9 months to get my act back together and when I finally did I wasn’t the man I used to be.
There I was, extremely emphatic and very aware of what I wanted and did not want.
I believe that my recovery was also the starting point of the slow death of my marriage.
Yesterday Sweetheart and I talked about that time. I told her I knew exactly where and when I was the moment I felt I did not exist anymore.
I cannot start to explain how it was. I had no emotions, no feelings but lots of aggressive feelings. I was an empty shell and convinced I only existed because some imaginary writer wrote about me.
* * * *
As I was half an hour to early I had the opportunity to shoot my very first images with the Olympus OM-2n and the 50mm f1.4.
I used the much acclaimed aperture priority exposure control and my very first shot was one of a statue against a bright blue sky.
It was spot on.
A few other shots learned me, after developing and scanning, that the 50mm f1,4 is, wide-open, incredibly sharp even in the corners.
This camera and lens was sold new 34 years ago as I saw on the original invoice that came with the Olympus.
* * * *
Late this afternoon I went for a walk and I took my Olympus bag with me. The sun was shining, the sky loaded with clouds.
I met a group of elderly people, 3 couples and a man alone. They all smiled at me and said hello and how are you.
Young people are less open is my experience.
They sat down on a bench and I, 100 meters further, stopped and composed an image.
One of the old timers approached me.
“Hi,” he said, “can we borrow you? You seem to be a professional photog.”
I chuckled. I had only 35+ years old material with me.
“Would you take a photo of us all? We represent almost 4 centuries of friendship.”
So there I was holding a digital Canon point ‘n shoot and making a group photo while everybody was happy and laughing and the light was just right.
We chatted for a while and one of the guys told me a cheesy joke about a guy who couldn’t get a chick and then asked a photog for help.
We finally went our ways but it reminded me that life after all isn’t that bad.