The Space Between
I've held these pictures, all shot on an iPhone, close to the vest for a number of years, but I suddenly feel ready to share in the hopes this brings something meaningful to those who can or need to relate.
More than 20 years ago, I photographed a young woman named Sunyata. She said her name was a Buddhist concept meaning "that which is between something and nothing." The idea that there is a state of being in-between here and there; not past, present or future, intrigued me. Even if her definition didn't turn out to be entirely accurate the concept stuck in my head and its significance reared its head a few years ago.
It started with a sore throat that quickly turned into a near inability to swallow. My family and I spent six agonizing weeks in a murky void of knowing something was seriously wrong without a clear picture as to what it was or what, if anything, could be done. It could be a virus or cancer or food allergies or ...
Thankfully no one ever said what the last or could have been.
I lived in a liminal state of the unknown.
It was neither good nor bad.
It just was.
Eventually I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma - a highly curable blood cancer. Battling cancer, even a highly curable form and for a relatively brief time, is a swirl of emotion, pain, anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, malaise, fear, anger, sadness and even occasional joy. Four months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation later I was, and remain, cancer free.
Unintentional and born from boredom, I began a visual diary. Eventually I noticed something going on between the pictures of my experience - moody, dark, blurry and almost always in black and white - and that of my kids - bright, energetic, joyful and always in hyper saturated colors. So I kept at it. This work is a contemplation on the duality of my experience navigating the spaces in between knowing and not knowing, certainty and uncertainty, patient and parent.
My wife took care of all of us and sadly only after it was all over did I realize I had unconsciously mostly left her out. She was busy with making sure we got through it all in one piece. I was obsessed with my own mortality and my worries were narrowly focused on the impact this was having on our kids - who were and are just fine. This is the unintended consequence of being married to a strong, capable woman. Sometimes you miss that she's human too. This is dedicated to her.
*All pictures by Scott Lewis except the first one, by J. Kyle Keener