Early last year, I found myself being rushed into an emergency room by ambulance paramedics. I was shocked to suddenly feel my freedom taken away, and total trust for my life given over to machines and strangers.

After being discharged, in a walking-dream state, I felt compelled to take a picture. Something to document the moment. I had spent the last 24 hours mainlining machines. Still wearing electrodes, I put on gold lame pants. To me they resembled astronaut lounge wear. Closest I could summon to represent my man-machine experience. The drugs were probably still wearing off.

I had been declared 100% fit. But I felt like I had cheated Death.

A week after leaving hospital, an old friend was found murdered, blocks from my home. Not long after this, another friend’s father committed suicide. 

I have spent most of the time since then thinking about what are the things that sustain us. I am not religious and I do not believe in God, but I have come from institutionalized religion. I grew up for the first 16 years of my life in The School of Philosophy. 

Surely I should have a very good idea. But because of this upbringing I have rejected religion or mystical explanations. 

Many turn to religion, sport, drugs, alcohol, sex, our careers, therapy, social media, astrology, conspiracies, politics, pets, our families….

As I have researched, and thought about these questions, I have made photos.

I have found this an especially important question also while I live in America. Abnormal levels of anxiety or depression around important values is felt and discussed by everyone I talk to: on both sides.

I am interested in understanding these ways and means of sustenance from an experiential perspective. For example, I would like to go on a residential retreat at a monastery and simply see what image comes from that experience as opposed to documenting the process. 

I include “nature” as a means of sustenance, and I have taken many landscape photographs. These physical sources are well represented. 

But how do you visualize the experience of meditation, magic, the soul, or other non-physical phenomena? As much as I reject the mystical, I am fascinated by it, and curious about the boundary between human potential and pure fantasy.

I think that another part of this is attempting to walk in another person’s shoes. I am not ready to void all spirituality, all concepts of God, nor am I blind to why there is an Opiate crisis, or what gets someone through the experience of homelessness, impotence, isolation, identity and so on.

© Adam Custins, 2017