From the Vault: February 3, 2017
The From the Vault series re-visits older posts from my previous blog.
Have I learned anything (about photography, parenting, existing in general) in the years since? I think so. Is there still a lot to learn? Heck, yes.
Today, I'll take it back to words from four years ago (almost to the day). If you don't know this about me yet, now you do: I'm a little obsessed with The Neverending Story. I will not apologize for this. Consider yourself warned...
Being sick has its advantages, like having an excuse to lie around all day in bed, reading. Though I haven’t used my camera much during the last week or so (today’s photo was made last summer… oh, summer… how I miss you), I took the opportunity to re-read, for the umpteenth time, my favourite book.
There’s a character in Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story called Dame Eyola, a merry, maternal woman who is also, as it happens, a fruit-bearing plant (if you like fantasy stories, you won’t be disappointed in this book). She lives alone in an ever-evolving house, where the rooms shift and transform according to the building’s whim. It’s called, aptly, the House of Change.
When young Bastian, the main character, meets Dame Eyola near the end of the novel, he’s already crossed the boundaries of reality into Fantastica, a fantasy world made up of human imagination. His ambition has driven him to great heights in Fantastica, but it has also cost him dearly. He’s nearly broken when he makes Dame Eyola’s acquaintance.
Bastian has to find his way home, and to do so, he must use a magical amulet to make wishes leading him to what he truly desires. Here’s the catch: he requires memories of his old life to make a wish, but every time he makes a wish, a memory of his old life disappears. He’s in great danger of using up his last wish, losing his last memory, and ending up forever lost and confused as a Fantastican resident in the nonsensical City of Old Emperors (maybe someday I’ll post about the sad parallels between this City and the heartbreak of dementia).
Dame Eyola allows Bastian much-needed rest and nurturing. He’s encouraged to be a child – to explore, to play, to take comfort, to refuel. She consoles him when he expresses his fears of losing his last remaining memory of the boy he once was. He asks her:
“Must I lose everything?”
“Nothing is lost,” she said, “Everything is transformed.”
You may remember some basic science – the principle that mass cannot be created or destroyed, only changed (when I Googled Dame Eyola’s phrase above I learned that a very similar one – “Nothing is lost. Nothing is created. Everything is transformed.” – is attributed to Antoine Lavoisier, an 18th century pioneering chemist).
Mass, okay. I get it. The tree that used to stand in the photo below is long-gone. Used for firewood, or furniture, or left to rot and rearrange its molecules into the rest of the living earth. Repurposed, you might say. But what of memories? Do they change when they’re lost? Where do they go? What do they become?
Dame Eyola doesn’t explain.
Fantastica, it’s said in the book, “rests on a foundation of forgotten dreams.” Quite literally, Fantastican earth is made up of layer upon layer of paper-thin pictures depicting all the forgotten dreams of humans – those that dissipate like wisps of smoke when we wake from sleep.
If you need a peaceful place to sit and ponder these things, I know a nice one. It’s carved right into an old stump, on the banks of a river.
My Comments Today:
The above photo was made and edited during my 30x30 Nature Challenge in August of 2016. Today, for fun, I dug up the original file and re-edited it in a way that's more reflective of my current style. In a word, a little more subtle. I've since learned how to use Lightroom to target parts of an image with adjustments, to take it easy on the 'dehaze' and 'clarity' sliders, and to relax a bit with colour saturation.
Here's how I might edit the same file today:
For those of us who love a little bef0re-and-after:
Even the most amazing edits can't save a photo that wasn't all that compelling or well-executed to begin with. Photographically speaking, I'm not really excited about this image at all, when I look at it now - other than that it reminds me of that beautiful, moody summer evening out on the trail in Preston when I came across that tree stump.
There's no shame in sharing the stages of our journeys, in fact, I think it's important that we recognize mistakes and growth with curiosity and kindness.
Nothing is lost. Everything is transformed.
See you next week.