We’ve all had them, those special moments, when there is momentarily more
clarity, more awareness of who and where we are, and, perhaps, why. Often
we’re in a new and different place, which might trigger long dormant synapses
that that sparkle and connect in a way that is unique to each of us.
I have found, over the years, that it is nearly impossible to recreate those
moments, or to even adequately explain them. until I finally discovered how
pictures and videos, taken around a special moment, either before or after,
can stimulate those deeply-set thoughts and memories, and sometimes
coax them back to the surface.
It’s a neat trick, to share feelings, perceptions and momentary madnesses,
on the tangible page. I struggle with it, yet have to try. I know that I’m usually
touching on something that the readers will have experienced, and even if they
don’t relate to mine, it’s enough to know they might have been reconnected
to their own special moments, being jump-started by my attempt to explain.
My discovery of this “recapturing a special moment” finally came four years
ago, when I was going through some pictures we had taken of our first trip to
Italy. I saw the picture above, and immediately remembered what I was thinking
about, and how it felt, when I took it.
We were in Priano, having a drink downtown at the Bar Del Sole. We’d had a
great day, and were both feeling free and happy. We were loving being in
Priano, had a great room on the outskirts of the town and were being drenched
in Amalfi Coast magic. As you can see, the view from our deck chairs was
like nothing I’d ever seen before. So I snapped some pics, and as I took this
one, the moment suddenly locked in time. The scene opened up a section of
my mind I’d never felt before, and my imagination soared. B noticed it and was
Now this is the hard part. I looked at the picture in the camera, then at the
real scene itself. Way, way out there was a small boat, heading west, into
the far unknown. I tried to get a picture of it, but it was too far out for my
camera. So i set the camera down and just looked out there, knowing I was
feeling something that seemed timeless, powerful… perhaps close to a hidden
deep and abiding truth. I couldn’t define it, but I understood it, as if I’d known
it forever. The thoughts and feelings that flooded were all of an old and trusted
friend, as if it knew me better than I knew myself.
I can’t help thinking that what’s going on within us and around us can be
critical to moments like this. The Bar Del Sole was fairly jolly… a soft breeze
wafting across the deck. The temperature, the day, was perfect. B had just
videoed me trying to be “the most interesting man in the world,” and we’d had
a good laugh over it. Several couples were sitting at tables close to us. Four soccer players had gotten together for a beer before practice, and had just buzzed off on their Vespas.
How I’ve been finally able to unravel it is, unfortunately, fairly mundane. My
tangible interpretation of that moment flashed in an unfathomable feeling of
a lack of time and being. I was neither here on the deck or out there out on the
unending sea… but in some invisible thread in the middle, connecting the two.
The sea was life. The little boat way out there was the vessel… me. And I was
sailing out into that vast emptiness, not afraid, and not knowing what was out
there, where I was headed, what I would find. It was my life… unfolding out in
the open sea in front of me, beckoning me to sail into it, from my safe harbor
into its unknown.
That picture brings it all back… that much of it, anyway. It doesn’t recreate
the magic of the moment, it doesn’t give me any answers as to what
happened then and why… but it helps me remember it, and how it felt. And
after all my attempts to analyze it and learn from it, it also reminds me that
I’ve had other times like that… other times that pictures can help to bring back.
I think we all have these moments, except that, in most cases, we forget them
and they slip away. Perhaps they’re a little bit amazing at the moment, and
maybe they remind us, in a split second, that we’re still experiencing this
miracle of life, which we know virtually nothing about. A fleeting, white light
of recognition… we’re not supposed to be able to translate that experience
on any level. To do so would likely be to begin touching on the meaning of life.
My understanding of it is, at this point, that life is set up so we cannot even
begin to understand it on any tangible level, nor should we. Our basic needs
are to eat, sleep and reproduce. there is so much in our lives that is intangible…
our emotions, perceptions, momentary responses to life situations that we
handle spontaneously… and who knows why we do and say what we do and
say under certain conditions… It all might be knowable, but it damn sure
isn’t simple, or easily accessible.
And so, at the end of all this, I’m left with the image of that little boat heading
out to sea toward the vast horizon of tomorrow, knowing it’s always like this…
every day, every moment… that we are all out on that sea of endless
possibility, that nothing is preordained, though it so often seems to be. If we
choose to be sequestered, which so many of us do, we find ourselves in a box
of known entities, of familiar articles and patterns of daily living, that bring us
a false sense of safety, security. But I think, in truth, that we’re still out there,
on the vast sea of unknown destination… floating contentedly, unknowingly,
in a box.