Pulmonary: The Air That I Breathe (Revisited)


As I learn to deal with and accept what will define me, my life, and my legacy going forward, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking back. Specifically, I am looking back on both where I have lived my life as well as HOW I’ve lived my life.

One thing this has led me to do is research photos of what Philly used to be. I actually started doing this in preparation for writing a blog post I will have up in the next day or two about the demise of a real moviegoing experience. But as I’ve searched for photos of theaters that were important to the area as well as were instrumental in my growing up, I’ve opened my thoughts to much more.

As I searched for those movie palace memories, I found so many wonderful photos and documents of the amazing history of Philadelphia and I am not ashamed to say that I’ve thrillingly wasted a lot of time recently marveling at these photos. Like the one above.

The above picture is from 1910, and is a shot of City Hall from East Market Street in Philadelphia. That looks like the Lit Brothers building on the right.

First of all, I love this shot. The way it is composed, how brilliant the black and white is, how the framing gives it a great panorama, and how it shows a city growing into the 20th Century.

I love everything about it. Well, there is one thing that I do not like. Take a close look at City Hall Tower. The tower portion was about 11 years old when this photo was taken. Looking closely at the tower, you’ll see that in a single decade, the tower is now covered in blackness. It wasn’t designed that way. The blackness is the result of coal dust and other airborne pollutants prevalent in Philly at the start of the 20th Century. The coal dust is from heating homes as well as the major railroad industry here, among other things.

A Baldwin Locomotive manufactured in Philadelphia

It makes for a dramatic photo, but imagine Billy Penn on top of the tower actually being you on the street. While you may have adhered to the hygiene rules of the time, you can only imagine how this affect not only healthy people, but those who were ill. This is not a political rant (if you follow me on Twitter @adimike55, you will get plenty of my political views. Hint: I don’t ride an elephant.).

However, while this is a century ago, these things can exist and damage even today if unchecked. We still haven’t figured out what caused my lung scarring, but it is obvious that it was something inhaled by this vehement non-smoker. These things affect others as well and need to be kept well in check.

Billy Penn is still standing on the City Hall Tower today, even having undergone numerous baths in his lifetime. He can go strong, and he can go on forever.

I cannot.

Because of my Interstitial Lung Disease, I can no longer work like I used to. My mind is still strong but my stamina has diminished. In addition, an imperfect storm that combines my lungs, the current state of unemployment and lack of jobs, and my age (56) works to affect me beyond my ability to breathe. At my age under normal conditions, I could look forward to at least 10 more productive years at work. However, since my disease is progressive, there is no guarantee as to how long I could continue at any job if one was offered.

While I bring a ton of accomplishment and experience to the table for any job, am employer who wanted something long term probably doesn’t want to retrain me only to lose me quickly.

So, I search for relevance. I search for personal accomplishment. I search for me.

The photo above has rekindled my desire to get myself a good camera and just start documenting life as I see it. I’ve never been a photographer, but I can learn and on my own schedule. I have an iPhone and use Instragram but I’ve taken that about as far as it can go. Point and shoot cameras just don;t feel like a camera.

I love black and white photography and I love shots that capture life. Not a fan of the “say cheese” type of photo. I want people in my picture but I want them full of spirit, not posing.

I also want this to rekindle the creativity I used to apply to my previous jobs. I want a black and white life to add vibrancy to my own. And I want to create a piece of myself that I can share with all around me and beyond.

First, I have to solve the problems of finding a good camera that I can afford, since medical bills are priority one. Then, I need to share this desire with those who can advise and help me grab a piece of my life forever.

Then, I can feel like me again. You will marvel at what “me” can do.

Philadelphia City Hall, Founders Week 1908

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One comment on “Pulmonary: The Air That I Breathe (Revisited)

  1. Pingback: PULMONARY: The Heat Was/Is On | A View From Under The Desk 2.0

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