There are, I believe, pivotal moments in every life. This idea is one that has been much explored in literature, philosophy, art. What a blessing it is, I think, to be gifted with self-awareness in such moments, to be able to feel the subtle shift in the energy of the universe. Of course, sometimes that shift isn’t so subtle. Sometimes that shift is so jaw-droppingly obvious that it sends us into a state of shock. This is what grief does. Such is the effect of sudden catastrophe, unprepared for, emotionally baffling, changing for us, in no uncertain terms, our being, our existence in this world forever. Sometimes there are planned changes that we can easily recognize as transformative, moving to another town or state, for example, is a change that one could easily recognize as being life-changing. Sometimes one form of change leads to another. The cacoon is not the final form of the caterpillar.
A week ago, an old buddy of my husband’s passed away. He was one of a group of friends that don’t all necessarily keep in close touch, but they’ve known each other for many years, and they share a bond of a particular time in all of our histories. I think the older we all get, the more it begins to affect us in different ways when someone we know dies. We are not young anymore, but we are not old. We were sorry to hear of this man’s passing. My husband and I got to talking, and I started looking for a couple of old pictures, from close to a decade ago, that we both wanted to see. It took a while to find them. But when I did, I also found an absolute plethora of photographs that I took during one of the most difficult times of my life. I’d thought these photographs were gone forever, lost in some old computer or another. I had no idea I’d managed to save any of them.
The pictures were taken with whatever my old first phone with a camera was. We were renting an older home, the most important feature of which was that we were allowed to have our two, much-loved ( and now much-missed) dogs there with us. The house had a very large backyard, it also happened to back-up to a schoolyard, which gave it an even greater sense of space, and further enhanced the feeling of “Big Sky.” I took photographs just about every day that we lived in that house. Photographs of sunsets, or the flowers I planted, or of two old, gnarled, rose bushes, jammed into the corner against a sagging fence. There were a few photographs from other places, out and about, but most of the ones I found were from my own backyard.
It was a blessing to have direct access to so much natural beauty every day, to be able to walk out into my own yard and see the roses blooming, or witness a spectacular sunset. I feel doubly blessed to have an awareness of such things. The other day I was out taking pictures of the moon out in the afternoon, and was surprised by how many people I talked to along the way who said, “What are you taking pictures of? Huh, I didn’t even know the moon was out.” If ever I’ve taken good or beautiful photographs, it’s a credit to the subject matter. I’m just trying to get it centered in the frame as it appears to me and capture some of the changing light. I’ve been taking photographs since I was twelve years old when I got my first 110 Instamatic camera for Christmas. It is my favorite hobby. I take photographs because I love to. Taking photographs has also been a way for me to continue to feel connected and close to my grandparents, they loved taking photographs. I’ve realized that in some ways, it had become an extension of my grief at losing them more than a decade ago now. Grief is a different experience for each of us, one that I believe must be allowed to have whatever time it takes. But, in amongst those photographs of sunsets, of pictures I’d taken while we lived in that old house, there was a picture I’d taken of myself when I was in the worst emotional shape of my life. I barely recognized myself, it didn’t even look like me. Have you ever seen a photograph of yourself that doesn’t look anything like the “you” that you know? It is a strange thing indeed. It was also something of a revelation to me. Sometimes understanding who we are involves not a little bit of figuring out who we aren’t.
I’m having one of those moments of knowing that my life is changing again. A moment of sensing a subtle shift in the energy of the universe, a subtle change in the light. I’ve taken a lot of photographs in the last few months, wanting to savor every beautiful moment I’ve seen, wanting to store away those sunsets for some future date, wanting to hold them close in wonder and awe. The last week or so, in particular, there seems to have been one stunning moment after another to linger over.
I’ll be keeping my other page dedicated to “imagery and poetry,” I think I’ve finally learned to keep all my pages (I hope). I’ll likely post some of these photos there, but it is time to be doing something else. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a book to finish. And another to fix, and another to write and, another. I’m incredibly thankful for whatever creative gifts I’ve been blessed with. This ability to see beauty, to transform grief and pain and suffering into expression through art, to exalt moments of joy, happiness, of empathy and understanding, these gifts have saved my soul, and my sanity, again and again, and I thank God for that. I’ve sometimes called it my “Human’s Compensation,” as in, I’m human, and that hasn’t always been easy, but God gave me all this to go with it. I am truly humbled by such blessings.
So I’ve lingered at the changing light. But I’ve felt that subtle shift in things and it’s time for me to put the camera down for a while. Oh, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever stop taking photographs, but there are other matters that require my focus. Sometimes the universe lets us know that it’s time to move on and to let go. If we spend too much time clinging to something that’s time has passed, it keeps us from whatever the future has for us.
“Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” ~ Joan Didion