We’ve been traveling to some absolutely breathtaking places these past couple of days, and at every opportune moment the cameras are out and snapping.
I love photography. I love everything it can do. I love everything it remembers. I love the framing of a scene, the manipulation of it and its eventual evolution into a creation all its own.
Yet at almost every opportune moment this trip, I have either ran out of memory or battery early on,
never able to capture the exact shot I’m waiting for, or try the ideas I have in my head.
This is not a post that is interested in whether or not a camera ruins a moment.
It is a post interested in the question of a moment.
While watching the sun set among fresh clouds after a rainstorm in the mountains, my phone conveniently dead, I thought a lot about how to remember this moment.
Because the truth is I won’t.
Maybe something about the way the light hit everything from the peak all the way down to the valley will always trigger a rush of joy in my body.
Maybe something about the breeze and the friends and the excitement of a new experience will remain a savoury part of growing up.
But the sunset will fade. In the present and in my head.
And so will every other sunset, every sunrise, ocean shore, mist-filled forest, and city light.
Are photos our signposts to joy?
Are they our stored reminders for harsher times?
Are they tickets into nostalgia?
Are they messages with a point of view?
Are they our unspoken stories?
Maybe the question of the moment is ‘what will you do with me?’
And photos have become the answer closest to a deeper longing to not forget.
What can we do except try?
How else can we fight off our fear?
Having faced this question with no way to photograph, not once but a couple of times,
I have asked the moment back, ‘well what will you do with me?’
And in the ensuing silence there have been answers.
See, the sun is rising over a beautiful mountain and somewhere in the mountains are the dying and the dead, the living and the well, the sickly and the lonely.
The mist here is cool and grey but elsewhere black and dusty.
Under the bluest of skies lives the best and the worst,
all the broken history of time.
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion to get swept up in but these days, every picturesque moment greets me with a grand indifference,
‘nothing, I will do nothing with you. Who are you even?’
The thousand year old sacred trees know this.
They will be there long after I am gone.
The rising sun knows this, and descending clouds also know this,
‘what you see and feel is only what you have already always known.
living is just this. living is never just this.’
What is a photo in that moment then?
What is there to prove or capture?
What is there to know or say?
except maybe that is all we can do with the question in the moment,
and the longing to answer that moment correctly becomes what we call nostalgia.
a correct we all yearn for but cannot specify.
a correct that is corrupted and wearing away at the edges.
a correct we might want to call a desire for heaven now inside and around.
and maybe the photograph is just more honest.
For what are these words if not a signpost, a reminder, a ticket, a message and an unspoken story?
What else could I possibly be writing for?