Pat's View: Happy Birthday to me
By Patrick Robinson
For the longest time, I thought I would die before the age of forty.
But now as I look back on my birthday at age 72, I realize that kind of fatalistic thinking was doing me a great disservice.
I have come to understand that it was a kind of avoidance symptom, and a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
When my mother died unexpectedly I was on the verge of becoming 18 years old. I never spoke about to anyone, and never really processed that loss. But clearly it made me more
reckless, less able to plan for the future, more untethered.
Why bother if you are going to check out early?
But I didn’t and now, I realize, with growing certainty that if I had,
I would have missed some genuinely incredible experiences that have enriched my life.
No photography awards, no Emmy awards, no marriage to the greatest woman I’ve ever known, no intense moments of peak creative joy from a song I’ve written or a photograph I’ve made. All of it would have never happened.
I did go through years of cyclical ups and downs from stupid highs where arrogance and pride were in force to equally if not more stupid lows where suicide seemed the only way out.
I took meds for awhile until I spoke to a therapist one day who told me… “You are fine. You’re just sensitive. Other people really are messed up.”
Now and then brief moments of those feelings still echo but mostly now I just feel gratitude. It’s a habit and a form of grace since it involves expressing happiness to others about their place in my life. The book The Four Agreements really helped me find peace too since it’s about dispelling foolish notions and working on a better attitude (and much more).
I keep trying to become a better photographer, a better writer, a better human. I make mistakes of course. But I don’t dwell on regrets. I can only try to do better despite my shortcomings.
So let me take this moment to say this:
Thank you, sincerely, to everyone who has ever said a kind word to me, or even held for a moment a kind thought about something I’ve done or said. I try very hard every day to make every encounter, every edge upon which we meet one another to impart to you my love for you, my hope for the best for you and my dearly held wish that you come away from that experience better than you were before.
Happy Birthday to me. Thanks to all of you.