Post Mortem

A photographic account of heavy music in Portland, Maine

14 from ’14: Best of Post Mortem


Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a four-part series. The first three installments are herehere, and here.

By Ben McCanna

It was nearly a year ago when I decided to do something different with my life.

On Jan. 21 — the night before my 40th birthday — my uncle died. It was sudden and tragic, depriving his young grandchild of getting to know the awesome person he was.

After the shock and grief subsided, a grim realization creeped into my head and took roost. This life — my life — is nearly two-thirds over.

Granted, this notion is out of step with national statistics. On average, white men in the United States live to a ripe old age of 74. But, I don’t think it’s in the cards for me. Here’s why:

My uncle died at age 60. My mother died at 60. Their father died at 61.

There are exceptions but, for the most part, my maternal line has an expiration date, and it’s 60. And I’m pretty much fucked.

This was an earth-shaking realization that sent me headlong into a mid-life crisis — a crisis that persists to this very moment.

Mid-life crises are largely the stuff of comedy in our culture. There’s a pervasive cliché that men in crisis will buy a third-generation Camaro, wear ill-advised jeans, and cheat on their wives. The standard narrative tells us that the crisis is a desperate, delusional attempt to recapture one’s youth.

I like to think it’s something different. I like to think a mid-life crisis can be done well.

It’s corny, but a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto a quote that resonated deeply. The quote came packaged in the cheesiest way possible: an inspirational photo of a sunset posted on someone’s Facebook wall. At the bottom of the photo, superimposed over a pristine beach, was a thought from Confucius. (I honestly don’t know if it’s Confucius’ quote. The Internet has it attributed to all sorts of people, including, um, the actor who played Loki in The Avengers.)

We all have two lives. The second begins when you realize you only have one.

I’m not a big believer in quotes as life-changers (or anything more than bullshit), but in this case, it reinforced all the changes that had already taken place over the past year.

Shortly after Uncle Bob died, I started looking at ways to get out of the 9-to-5 trap; to do the things that mattered; to take a big chance on a dream and be prepared to suffer the consequences of failure. It was no longer an option to sit around and wait for things to happen. To my mind, nothing lies beyond this present existence: I don’t believe in fluffy white clouds; I believe in lights-out.

Long story short, it was go-time.

After a few months of planning, I left my full-time job as a reporter, started a freelance career as a photographer, and launched this blog in late May.

The blog, in particular, was a scary step. I didn’t have any right to start it: I was a relative newcomer to Portland, I was a near stranger to the city’s heavy music scene, and I could easily (and perhaps accurately) be called out as a poser.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, I faced an outpouring of gratitude, respect, and friendship.

If there’s a lesson in this, it’s simple. It’s so simple it could be dismissed as trite — even feeble-minded — but it’s as true as sky or earth:

Put love out there.

If you love to do something, do it. If it doesn’t exist, build it. If there’s no market for it, do it for free.

Just put love out there. It will come back ten-fold.

In six short months, Post Mortem has amassed nearly 100,000 page views from 52 countries. (We’re big in Spain.) But stats and metrics are ultimately meaningless. What matters is love.

So thank you, dear reader, for your kind reception of Post Mortem, my work, and the work of guest contributors Janel Croll and Michael Batchelder.

Thank you for turning an otherwise tragic year into one of the best years of my life.

2014 was a gift. Here are 14 of my favorite moments from it.

If you like this shit, then Like this shit. Better yet, follow us on your Twitters.

If you’d like to see other examples of our work, here’s a Best of 2014 collection culled from The Forecaster and elsewhere.

3 comments on “14 from ’14: Best of Post Mortem

  1. Mark Lerner
    December 31, 2014

    Inspiring stuff. I like knowing you’re out there, McCanna.

  2. Pingback: Farewell (for now) | Post Mortem

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