photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Patricia Lay-Dorsey | profile | all galleries >> daily_life tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Falling Into Place
~self portraits by Patricia Lay-Dorsey~




Photographing my life, the everyday ordinariness of it, has become a spiritual practice. As I write this I can hear many of you saying, “Oh god, she’s going new-agey on us.” Maybe so. But the fact is that photography has forced me to see life as it is, not as I wish it were. Sometimes I wonder if I would ever have come to this place had I not fallen into it. Literally.

It started with a fall, a knee-buckling ankle-spraining fall onto an unyielding sidewalk one cold January day. After the fifth unexplained fall in six months, I saw a neurologist who put me through a series of tests. Two months later I had a “75% certain” diagnosis of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. Within the year he’d changed it to 100%.

Twenty years later I wonder who I’d be and what I’d be doing were it not for this unexpected assault on my body. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say I’m grateful it happened. Sure I’d love to be able to run another marathon, or bike another 200-mile weekend tour, or even open a flip-top can by myself. It’s a real pain to take a half hour to change into my swimsuit, to wet my dress because I couldn’t make it to the toilet in time, to ask for help opening every door that pulls rather than pushes. And more. Much more. Being disabled can really suck.

And it can teach too. Patience, perspective, humility, determination, even gratitude. How much I appreciate small things like being able to pick up my camera’s memory card when I drop it (again and again) on the floor. How proud I was last August when I drove by myself the 1300 miles to and from New York City. How pleased I am that my claw-like fingers can still hit the shutter release button on my beloved Canon 40D.

I call this essay “Falling Into Place” because, in some strange way, I feel this IS my place, to see the world waist-high rather than face-to-face.

I started this project with the intention of showing my world view as a woman with a disability. As months went by, the work dictated its own focus and that was simply providing an eye into my daily life. Being disabled was just one piece of the puzzle, and not a particularly significant one at that. What became important was not so much showing my life to others, as seeing it for myself. My task as photographer/subject has been to recognize and document the most unremarkable moments of my day.

Some people “get it” and others don’t. My friend Dorothy Walters wrote the following poem after seeing the first tight edit of photos from this essay. Dorothy gets it.


The Photographer
(for Patricia)

She has transcended body,
left it behind.
She lives in a brain-ferment,
a buzzing hive of mind,
a tossing sea of perception.

She gathers fragments
of the presented world
and translates them
into a new medium,
a cosmos of images
held in a different frame.

In this uncovered order sun
and darkness meet,
old and unaccustomed bleed into
one another's space.

She is the eternal creator,
eyeing, composing, unmaking,
turning life over
into new soil,
new beginnings,
unexpected revelation.

Dorothy Walters
August 9, 2008
image 1
image 1
image 2
image 2
image 3
image 3
image 4
image 4
image 5
image 5
image 6
image 6
image 6
image 6
image 7
image 7
image 8
image 8
image 9
image 9
image 10
image 10
image 12
image 12
image 11
image 11
image 12
image 12
image 13
image 13
image 14
image 14
image 15
image 15
image 16
image 16
image 17
image 17
image 18
image 18
image 23
image 23
image 19
image 19
image 20
image 20
image 21
image 21
image 22
image 22
image 29
image 29
image 32
image 32
image 23
image 23
image 24
image 24
image 26
image 26
image 27
image 27
image 28
image 28
image 29
image 29
image 30
image 30
image 40
image 40
image 41
image 41
image 42
image 42
image 43
image 43
image 31
image 31
image 46
image 46
image 32
image 32
image 33
image 33
image 34
image 34
image 50
image 50
image 51
image 51
image 52
image 52
image 53
image 53
image 54
image 54
image 55
image 55
image 56
image 56
image 57
image 57
image 25
image 25
image 58
image 58
image 59
image 59
image 60
image 60
image 61
image 61