Translucent cockroach fed blue dye

Paul Bertner has a background in cell biology and genetics. He specializes in tropical rainforest macro photography and has found a global audience in… Isn’t that how these bios are supposed to read? Well, pull up a chair friend, you will laugh, you will cry, know sadness and joy, all in the next few riveting lines.

From diving for polliwogs in roadside ditches as a tadpole, to wading through rainforest rivers, exploring for new species as an adult, my life felt pre-ordained, a natural outgrowth of youth’s exuberance.

Teenage years marked an introspective change, as I went from outdoor gallivanting to building lush (yet leaky) vivariums which spilled out into my mother’s bedroom; provoking tears and pulled ears; mites of insight accrued through the wisdom of small sadnesses, now, a rose-tinged nostalgia.

But with the years came the scars of deeper sorrows; an exuberant growth turned malignant. Stage IV testicular cancer. Nauseous nights, and teardrops beaded on the thread of endless, listless days, a glistening necklace turned noose. Treatment, remission, and new hope?

Almost... rather, a new hip at 29 and a shoulder replacement to follow. I’d “beaten” cancer, but learning to read life’s ABCs was a cruel lesson: Chikungunya, Dengue, Lyme, Leishmaniasis, Salmonella, Typhus - the burden of years, built on seasons of suffering.

I live life now, as only one who has known hopeless hospital wards, and mortal sufferings may. I see beauty in the mosquitoes’ exquisitely crafted stylets. I feel a kinship with the cockroach,  a resilient survivor, and beggary, basking in nature’s majesty. To offer but a keyhole’s view onto this world is to share my life’s story, from plagues to polliwogs, imprinted onto every pixel of every picture I take.

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