I stood on the deck, bags packed light at my feet. I could feel change in this wind. It was the sort of change that came with understanding that it is impossible to ever be the same again. History flows into the hands of the story tellers. That's why I'm here. I can't sleep, I can't eat, I can't live until this is written. This story has been chasing me. The lines between what I write and live have crossed so often I dare say I, myself, am the story. The way I see it, if we are energy and energy is neither created nor destroyed, merely transferred from one living being to the next, then the very fiber of who we are is the culmination of every one of our experiences, every place we have visited, every kind word spoken to us, every soul whom we've encountered.
On the deck, feet planted shoulder distance a part, the wind and the rocking waves could not shake me. I held the camera up to my face and took a big breath in. The water churning below me. Click. The sun silhouetting people on the other side of the boat. Click. Clouds perfectly framing the islands we drifted by, as my mind drifted.
I never grew up wanting to be a photographer but I could sense, long before I had the words to define it, the disparity in what we see and what we know. Her hair flying to the left in rhythm to the song, and: click. the sun light falling through the trees on them just perfectly as they walk their dogs and love towards the light. click. Sandwiched between two girls, his arms flailing in the air to the beat, head back open mouth as his wife sips a drink in the far corner. click. bride putting her dress on and she's biting her lip whispering a prayer. will it fit? click. The last family portraits and he’s sitting in the grass as bored as can be while his children dance circles around him happy as larks. click.
I was there. I pushed the button. I am the judge. I decide what would be burned in their memory for the rest of their life, what would linger in their thoughts past the last light burning at night and what would motivate them to make their next big decision. Would she stay or leave? She would never see the photo of his dishonesty. He would never know the question in her heart. They would mend. Or maybe they would break, but my hand would only bring and give life and love. It was not to reveal what is, for what is truth?
From where I stand, it is what it is. It was to reveal love,
for I believe that every moment we are writing the story of our lives.
From where I stand there is no time when what we’ve done cannot be forgiven. There is no place where the sun cannot shine, even the shadows, give it time, shall feel the sun’s warm glow. From where I stand stories are always so much more interesting than peoples opinions. We the story tellers, write history. How do we write, how can we possibly objectively write about what happens to us? We walk on a precipice between what we feel inside and what we tangibly see in the world around us. Do we remember things as they were or do we shed light only on things that might push (or hinder?) our progress, our survival in this world?
In our interpretation, what do we owe the world, if anything?
The answer doesn’t come easily but I know this: We must be true to ourselves. The only thing we can give the world then is ourselves.
Rabbi Samuel ben Nahmani said it best: We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.