“The other side of the river is my go-to place.”
“So, You are Mr. Darcy?”
Ex-Serviceman for RAF (Royal Army Forces), Darren, says promptly: « Sure I am ». He lives in Norfolk, King’s Lynn, UK. His photos captured my interest on a cold and wet November day, around Remembrance Day. The first thing that came into my mind was this: « Oh, someone who still likes taking great outdoor photos, cool » . In this digital era, I lost any will to make an effort to share photos with my so-called friends. Dunno you:) Anybody can take good pictures, today, with their phones, so, what’s the purpose?
Secondly, this stranger acquaintance seems to enjoy animals as much as I do, like sleepy owls, robins, and dragonflies. All these kinda transforming symbols of animal totems which I deeply respect and take as silent guides.
« Yes, I acknowledge the spiritual connections of animals. I am one who believes in signs and symbols and not religions. » Oh, wow, I admit to my Self, and he validates my visionary theory that there is a mystery in nature: « Always a message being delivered if you open the mind enough to see it. »
His profile, on penpals online database, states firmly: « Not here to date anyone unless they convince me otherwise. No stalker types please. Oh and no definitely not into chatting for 10 mins then going to WhatsApp, so you can send me videos (yep – I already been asked). Plenty of shallow losers on here that will accommodate you with that if that is your thing. »
Well, it’s me leaving amused comments in his mailbox, first. I expect he is this kinda narcissistic persona who won’t definitely bother my existence: arrogant and snobbish Mr. Darcy! I once met a french photograph in Paris, and I was so excited, I mean …he never replied. « Photograph » was my passion until… dunno. Was in 2007, when I arrived in this area, my eyes were dreamy and naïf ; oh, things just happen, I suppose. They call it « Paris’s Syndrome ». Seriously, it is a condition exhibited by some individuals when visiting or going on vacation to Paris, as a result of extreme shock at discovering that Paris is different from their expectations. Japanese are first victims. They come with their Gucci pochette and feel sick at catching metro squeezed into wagons with millions other innocent visitors and locals, well, Parisians. Anyway, « what brings me here » asks my mystery foreign acquaintance (can’t see his face on the profile, he hides behind his camera), and I just can’t lie, I say straight : « PTSD «. « Lots of PTSD here » he admits. « Not sure they are at ease talking about it ». I am not there to chitchat about anxiety, I explain to him, and I wonder what I am really here for since I am not even dating. Will he deliver his feelings about PTSD to a perfect stranger?
Darren opens up in a simple way:
« As servicemen, we are taught to bury anxiety and get on with the job. I buried mine so far down that I forgot it was there. It was slowly smoldering and working its way back to the surface in my dreams and subconscious. I eventually decided to write it all down and read it back. That was the beginning of my healing. I shared it with those who I trusted and eventually discussed it with a counselor. I chose to use my negative experience to help others because I understood what they had been through and could put their emotions into words when they often could not. »
« Negative is a judgment. » I kindly reply. « You chose to use your experience to help others. You are validating my will to empower others by their own creativity. You made my day. Thanks. »
“I was in the RAF. I now work with apprenticeships. I was injured in a job after the RAF and my engineering career is over. I use photography to express myself without words. You can tell that from my profile I ages. Photography is easy now. The equipment is cheap. Just a case of developing an eye for a good picture. I like to see through another person’s eyes. I lend my camera to date and see what they see and how they see it. Can learn a lot about a person from that. Yes. I date artistic types. I am drawn to creative people. Always good to explore their perceptions of the world via a lens. You should do street photography. Just sit outside a cafe and take pictures of life on the streets. Best images are of people just doing their thing and not posing for shots. To be honest, I tell Darren, I have been doing it alot, but dunno, I feel like being intrusive now. Perhaps I’ve got the french way to keep discrete and mind my own business lol « Target a specific group of people each day you go out with the camera. Tourists, homeless, street entertainment, police…variety. »
And our conversation just goes on into great travels around our great Western -both Southern and Northern -World (from Argentina to Canada) and furthermore the time he’s spent in Italy when young because of the culture and scenery. And soulful Italian eyes perhaps. Oh, and the red wine! Not surprised to hear that his hotel manager had a mafia connection, but this is how the world goes around, as it seems.
The next day I wake up with a request on my mind, will Darren let me share his stunning animal pictures on my website? I am not wasting any time. Ask and here you get what I picked on his Flickr and Instagram accounts with his consent and permission.
« The best way to treat PTSD is to talk about PTSD. That is what helped me. It is easier to live with if you have support and understanding of the condition. You will be fine one day. It will subside naturally and will become a memory. » I appreciate Darren’s words, but in my humble opinion he underestimates body’s memory long term stress disorders and triggers like a car or bus (my case) accident on a Wednesday, where blood pressure flies to the moon and you can’t just control it, though what happens is not that traumatic; your alert system (Fight Flight Freeze) activates on self pilot. Your stress is a danger itself in your cardiovascular system. I know I am not overdoing it. It’s a fact. Your lifestyle has to be very healthy. He cares to add still : « Yes triggers are a problem. I can pre-empt mine now though. Helps me prepare for any rise in anxiety levels. Thankfully mine are mostly war and Muslim trust-related (no a racist thing – just a product of a previous environment). Been there « Most of those sunrises and sunsets were natural colors captured over a 30 minute period from darkness rising to the light. I used a Sony DSLR with light-capturing settings. What I saw was what was captured. The prism of light. All of those places are within a walk of me. My local nature. Photography and its appreciation is in the eye of the beholder. Life is all about darkness and light. How to run to one or escape another. I embrace them both now. I am as comfortable in the dark with my thoughts as much as in daylight. The moments before dusk or dawn are powerful times switching between the two. Very emotive. »
Whilst I am looking at Darren’s shots I can’t stop my self from thinking that the Scorpio is amazing and looks like a Warrior ready to fight; his symbol matches perfectly with his defensive yet dominant personality ( psychic and emotional realm ). And I think to my self what a wonderful « Mr. Darcy ».