Tearing off the mask

Festival Internacional da Máscara Ibérica 2019
photo: FIMI2019
Approx. reading time: 2 minutes ||

From various perspectives, a difficult weekend in the last month of May. A weekend of meeting people and having fun. Three days of not being recognized by people that I had nice conversations with – what seemed to be only a few – years earlier. Realizing that six years have flown by. Moments of swallowing truths. Accepting I am no longer the man I used to be, and to embrace that fact rather than running away from it. How does one embrace the change from being able to being able no more? Yes, it was fantastic to be on my feet for almost three whole days, walking, looking for shots – different angles, trying to see what others don’t (and laughing about that, because that is the competing, and as such blinding way of the ego). Tasting regional petiscos, queijos and bebidas, while wearing earplugs to block the noise of too many people and traditional bagpipes. Ignoring the pain until it disappears, or at least that was the idea. And getting to know the possibilities and limitations of a new lens, that too.

What got advertised as a debate for photographers (o olhar dos fotógrafos) turned out to be a presentation of the photography of Jason Gardner, by Jason Gardner. Even though I did not fully enjoy the relatively long talk, Jason did manage to make me think about my photography and what is the next level I want to take it next. And how to turn that into a reality. (I’m working on that, slowly but steady)

As a result of the therapies in 2017 (and possibly the medications), I have developed a rather nasty form of tinnitus. While walking through the FIMI crowd, more and more I understood that loud noises are very tiring when there is a constant background noise coming from within. A background noise that I can not block, no matter how loud I set my music player, no matter the sound-level of my surroundings. Silence has always been very important to me and it is no longer accessible. At least, for now – one day I will stop taking medication and hopefully that will have a positive effect. In October I will be having a thorough hearing test, mostly to rule out hearing loss. Although tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, it does not cause the loss, nor does hearing loss cause tinnitus. In fact, some people with tinnitus experience no difficulty hearing, and in a few cases they even become so acutely sensitive to sound (hyperacusis) that they must take steps to muffle or mask external noises. No more concerts, unless very quiet ones and no more (loud) crowds, thank you very much. The idea of using the Lisbon metro makes me twitch!

Anyway, enough about my ears and back to the masks. The weather could have been better, but definitely very much worse also. I was smart enough to wear my hat – most of the time – yet still managed to get a nice tan and a face that resembled a properly boiled lobster. Feeling the impact on my physique, I decided to leave the concerts to other shooters and omit the final day. After the defile, I felt so tired I could not lift my camera any longer and all I wanted was a proper dinner. Prego no prato was calling!

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