Stopping Time

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“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  Anaïs Nin

I have often thought of this quote by Anaïs Nin – not in the context of a writer, but in the framework of a photo. Ever since Joseph Nicephore Niepce clicked the first photo in 1814, humanity has been beguiled by the ability to capture something important.  It is our only way to stop time, to remember our journeys, and proclaim that we have lived, felt love, endured challenges and sustained losses.

I confess that I am a “photo hoarder.”  Yes, even the photos that I consider “second best” remain safely stored on external drives in hopes that some day there may be an editing program that will be invented that will enhance and bring out their beauty. By beauty, I mean the emotional impression of that event.

Just last week, I went back to “taste life twice.”  The year was 2004.  I had purchased my first digital camera, a Canon Powershot A70, for a long-awaited trip to Italy to enroll in a 3-week Italian language course.  The reviews were as generous as I was enthusiastic: “The PowerShot A70 is much more than just a 3.2-megapixel version of its predecessor, the A40.”   I was convinced that this was an excellent purchase.

With a camera in hand, there is added emotional drama at play, more clarity, more interest in the “now.”  This awareness was most keenly felt when I walked the lush paths of Frederick Stibbert’s Garden.  It was a late October afternoon. A gentle light settled on the trees and aging walls, a faint wind tossed the leaves.  A quiet solitude lifted my spirits.  I had recently finished an arduous academic journey and was at a crossroads.

Looking back on these photos, I remember a pivotal decision, made with a recognition that we move in tune with the music of time, surrounded by those who came before and those who will come after. Our myths, our struggles, our joys are intermingled.  Perhaps it is in the retrospective, in knowing what happened afterwards, that reveals a greater understanding.  And with that knowledge, we move forward with profound resolve to embrace the next moment.

 

 

34 thoughts on “Stopping Time

  1. You’ve re-awakened food for thought, as though it was possible to be totally dormant on the subject of stopping time. Stopping it, before the point we all must enter… that out of control breakneck speed point, that will or alas for many of us drag us in kicking. Stopping time is of issue in near every reflection I’ve made in most of the scribbles I write. One way or another there is some reference glaring or disguised about halting time or its speed, by our actions or fate’s demands. Doing so with a camera as you suggest, is without a doubt as close as it gets, to stopping or slowing it down.

    As to your reference “We write to taste life twice” I can indeed agree and attest to this in terms of writing inspirations, at least in the scribbles I have written over time, forever hoping my reflections give purpose, if but to tweak one or two fellow beings, other than myself to taste of life again.

    As to love, for me there is no opposite, nor any place to give cause that would create contrariety.

    Great post Rebecca… you made us wait, but it was worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Years facing many
      Three score plus ten,
      When some then
      Made feel too many,
      Years not living
      aversely at rest…”

      Jean-Jacques Fournier

      I have been thinking a great deal about story-telling lately, Jean Jacques. We love to hear stories, but most times we feel that our story is never enough. We toil and labour, we speed up our activities, but rarely stop to celebrate our accomplishments. But in the end, we are the stories we write, whether with a pen, a voice, a dance, and kind word. Your reflections and poetry are a reminder to live boldly, give generously – and take many photos along the way. Thank you for your encouraging comments – very very much appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find it hard to delete photos as well.. I think, ‘but what if I need a reference photo of —- ”

    With new high-tech camera in hand, you did well with those first images! The transport you back to a special time, and in turn, you take us with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you joined me!!! We lead busy lives, and sometimes forget to celebrate along the way. When we finish a project, a task, an event, then we hurry on to the next one. So let’s keep those cameras close by and remember to click. For the past few years, I have taken photos of the cherry trees along the Vancouver Seawall. This year, they have been taken down to make way for bike lanes. Bike lanes are a needed step and mark Vancouver’s progress on the environment. More trees will be planted, but I am very glad that I have those photos to remember a different landscape. Happy Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Had to share this with you! A couple of days ago I read this thought by Rabindranath Tagore, “Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • that is beautiful and timely. this morning as i sorted thu an eclectic pile of paper scraps, scribbles and ideas, i paused at one and thought, ‘you should be next.’ You will know the quote, which is long, but I’ll toss the first few lines:
        “Any fool can destroy trees. they cannot run away.. and if they could…”

        Yes. It is time to allow this one to find its wings and soar to a larger audience. Thank you .. I suspect you’ll see the beginnings on the next Timeout for Art!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for joining me!!!There is something about gardens, especially ones that are allowed to gracefully age and embrace the histories that are captured in every pathway. I imagined hearing the laughter and tinkling of cups and glass coming from a long ago afternoon tea party.

      Frederick Stibbert chose Italy over England. He inherited a massive fortune from his grandfather, Giles Stibbert, who was part (Governor of Bengal) of the British East India Company. I always smile when I read that “he (Frederick) did not work for the rest of his life.” He was tireless in his acquisition of art, antiques etc. He turned his home into a museum that he bequeathed to his beloved city, Firenze. Frederick was there at the birth of the Italian State and ever since 1909, his home/museum is open for all to visit. I am delighted that he DID work the rest of his life. Your comments are always a joy to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful photographs! Great and thoughtful post, too.

    I was just lying in bed, unable to sleep any longer, so I got up and went to my computer. One of my thoughts as I lay in bed was about why I take so many photographs and can never seem to get rid of any, no matter how blurry. Your post was very timely and inspirational. I sell some photography online, but I admit that many of the photos I post are simply an online scrapbook of my life. I’m a photo hoarder, too. To delete something is to delete a little of my past. And i like to taste life twice a lot. It’s a cheap second vacation to the same spot.

    I feel more engaged with my environment when I am taking photographs. I become part of it. I lose myself, even though part of my photography is to capture my life. One of my worst moments was when I left my camera on a train in Italy years ago with a full roll of film that had already captured a week. (Funny how we thought that a roll of 36 exposures was a lot, good enough for a few days of sightseeing.) The trip was a month long, and I was three weeks of it without a camera. I eventually adjusted, but I still miss the photos I didn’t get.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your marvelous comments – they add depth and breadth to this conversation. My father passed about 5 years ago and I am beginning to go through his photos. I often consider that I was raised in genteel property. But there was one thing upon which my father insisted. To purchase the best camera. Now I see why he persisted for I have a running story of our family. What came to me in viewing the photos was that moments are crystallized. All the cares and worries, the hopes and dreams, things that we felt were so important were for that time alone. Life continued, we experienced challenges and celebrations. What remains is the profound recognition of being alive, of sharing milestones and narratives of other who intersected my journey. We may live miles apart, but I feel that we are sharing the same pathway. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am there with you in spirit! I just purchased a scanner to scan slides. Remember those slide projectors?!!! I am looking into how to preserve old photos, especially in a time when we are experiencing reduced living spaces. I am certain that digitization will be a solution, but even that technology is in transition. The question remains – what do I do with the originals? Will let you know what I find out. The adventure continues…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Becky,

    Did you ever read A Dance to the Music of Time? Your post reminded me of it.

    I went crazy using Saturday to finish pressure washing the patio and did get it finished. The only time in what seems like weeks we haven’t had rain most of the day.

    Off to see my sister in Gibsons today. I’ll get Crow Crossing to the framer in a couple of days.

    See ya later,

    Betty

    >

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just went to Amazon.ca and found “A Dance to the Music of Time” by Anthony Powell. Is that the book?! It’s about 20th century England. Looks like a great read. Have added it to my ever lengthening “to read” list. So many books, so little time!! Safe travels and say hello to your sister. Looking forward to Cross Crossing. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the quote, Rebecca. What a beautiful garden. Your photos and words transported me there for a few moments this evening. Your post reminded me of the song from the James Bond movie, ‘You only live twice, or so it seems
    One life for yourself and one for your dreams’. (Can you believe it was 50 years ago?!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • “You only live twice, or so it seems
      One life for yourself, and one for your dreams
      You drift through the years and life seems tame
      Till one dream appears and love is its name
      And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on
      Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone
      This dream is for you, so pay the price
      Make one dream come true, you only live twice
      And love…”

      Had to share the rest of the lyrics! They presents the conundrum of humanity – can we match living with dreaming. A very interesting thought. Oh, I think that is the beginning of another post…. I agree wholeheartedly – I can’t believe it was 50 years ago. Zoom Zoom!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a photo hoarder! At least not if we get to see such fabulous images from you 😉 I loved seeing your new post today ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you dear Christy!!! With our new technologies we can become “book hoarders” too. What surprised me about these photos was the way in which a relatively low-cost camera could capture the essence of a time and place. It seems that photography is more than the sum of a camera’s limitation. Interesting…now that’s another mini-research project!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Dear Rebecca,
    It’s so strange that my long comment on this rich and beautiful post has disappeared… not only did I discuss the masterly way in which you expanded the whole subject, but I also mentioned Dance to the Music of Time, the BBC TV series, and the context in which it was written etc etc… I’ve just been re-reading this post, and find my comment had disappeared… do hope this one gets to you…

    Liked by 2 people

    • My dear Valerie!! I just received your message along with your marvelous thoughts on Dance to the Music of Time. I must look it up. I confess I still don’t know how WordPress works exactly. I continue to learn! Many hugs and thanks coming your way for your perseverance.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What beautiful garden!! It looks the most ideal place to sit and ponder on life’s journey. A garden of soul therapy! Anais Nin was totally spot on, we do write to taste life twice… even more than twice sometimes. And capturing images is very much the same. To be able to do both is indeed a great gift, and also… hopefully, leaving the future generation with a strong sense of live lived in our era. I personally love vintage photos, from all eras, but especially Victorian and Edwardian times. And I have a few favourite books of wisdom written by writers from that time too. Oh, if only they could have taken photos and printed them, their books would have been even more of a thrill to read.

    Keep the photography going Rebecca, you take some beautiful pictures, and it is an excellent way to remember our lives, even the tiny insignificant moments can be frozen and remembered when they would otherwise have been lost. And it’s great that photography has become so cheap… no waiting for pictures to be developed. I love to get home knowing I’ve got some new pictures to look at in my camera or phone, just get on the computer, and there they are… big, bold and beautiful. We are so spoiled on photography today!! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said!! I am forever grateful to people who have kept a record, journal, diary, photos over the past centuries. We will only know of their time through their words, which carry all the ideas, emotions, opinions, values their society. Writing allows us to taste life twice, but even more important it allows new generations to share the events of a past that will no never have a repeat.

      I’m going through my father’s photos and am researching how to preserve them and make them relevant to his great-grandchildren. Our technology allows us to capture thousands of moments. Just looked up how many selfies were uploaded – 24 billion in 2015.

      Thank you for stopping by – always a joy to read your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s really lovely Rebecca, family photos are very precious indeed. I was lucky to receive some copies of pictures of ancestors of mine going back to the Victorian era recently. One particular picture of a great, great aunt I just adore, I can literally see pieces of my mother in her face, it’s quite bizarre!! I might get to post them some time in a post on my blog. I’m sure your future family generations will really appreciate you making that effort… well worth the time and patience. Oh selfies… I know… so many… what is it about selfies?!!! They are enjoyable to see sometimes, but that is a ‘lot’ of pictures uploaded. Who would have ever thought we’d all be doing that!! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  9. “Yet, taught by time,
    my heart has learned
    to glow for other’s good,
    and melt at other’s woe.”
    Homer

    I’m guessing that was Odysseus, but not sure – it fit’s Nestor’s character, too. Anyway, I loved reading your eloquently shared memories and exquisite photos. That Egyptian tomb is amazing – what a nice surprise in such a lovely garden! Very nice to find your blog! Please feel free to Visit mine for a bit of Homer’s ancient poetry if you find that interesting.
    Kathleen

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am delighted that you stopped by Kathleen! And I am looking forward to our ongoing dialogue. You have an amazing blog – I have always had a fascination for Egypt and all things Egyptian. As Napoleon once said, “From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us!”

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