Almost a lifetime. That is how long it feels now that I am here finally writing a post. Words don’t come easy. I am stumbling, staring at the blank sheet of paper as I attempt to find expressions that can convey what and how I feel. Nothing yet.
But I know the photographs I want to share, and those I hope will render this easy. For the last 3 months I have been in the deserts of Iraq on work, but yearning for the mountains that I love. Those are the photographs I have open at this point of time – waiting, hoping that there will be this sudden surge of inspiration. The mountains do something for me. And not going there makes me feel as if I were incomplete. In the same way, photography and writing make me complete. I am different from what I was when I left for Iraq. I have been told that by those who know me. And what I have been told hasn’t been good. I have changed, and not for the better. This is what happens when I don’t photograph, when I don’t write and I don’t find myself in the mountains. These are what I am, this is who I am.
After months of travel, I finally got around to editing some photographs of Ladakh where I was in April, and found quotes as I often do for them.
For this one, I thought of what Andy Rooney said: “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
And this is what Pablo Neruda said in 100 Love Sonnets:
“So I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.”
“I’ve learned that a storm isn’t always just bad weather, and a fire can be the start of something. I’ve found out that there are a lot more shades of gray in this world than I ever knew about. I’ve learned that sometimes, when you´re afraid but you keep on moving forward, that’s the biggest kind of courage there is. And finally, I’ve learned that life isn’t really about failure and success. It’s about being present, in the moment when big things happen, when everything changes, including myself.” – Cynthia Hand, Hallowed
As as I beheld spring, the words of Ernest Hemingway came to mind: “You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.”
I feel better now as I write. I know this post isn’t great, but this is just how I feel without having photographed or written for months. I just hope the photographs compensate for my words.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson
It is much later such as now when I contemplate deeper on what that moment meant to me, do words come out and find their place, intruding as they were on my feelings. It is only in retrospect that I can actually apply logic and creativity and composition and all such things to the frame. Not then.
The feeling of being there, both in solitude and otherwise, is something I cannot explain in words. Not possible, even for me. But I’ll do the best I can. The feeling is meditative, of being immersed in the here and now, utterly and completely awestruck by the sheer beauty of it all. As I reflect on how I feel then, I realize that more often than not, I have no thoughts. Everything is still. And somewhere in that meditative frame of mind, I put the camera to my eye and press the shutter. I don’t compose. Or let me put it differently – I cannot compose. At least not according to me. I am in a zone.
Sometimes not always, there are those errant tears that run down as I see whatever is in front of my eyes. It is Creation. No, it is the Creator.
And there is only one thought if at all that overwhelms me then: