Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Light from the edge

The light leaked out into the eastern edge of the sky, slowly at first, and then with greater urgency and resolve. It was always like this, but unique every time, too.
Light helped. It relieved the weight of the world he felt, continuous pressure, little things and big, — a weight like someone standing on him with one foot in the middle of his back. He could carry it, but surely, it gets old after a while.
But there it was. Bright, glorious, colorful light — and shadow, revealing the terrain in all it features, texture, intensity, bumps, rises, peaks and valleys.
With camera in hand, he had raced the sunrise all his life. Likewise, he, at times, had lain in waiting, for the sunset. 
In the middle of the day, he tried to work with it, sometimes successfully, but it was just that, work. But around the edges of the day, the light, threads from heaven, worked with him, rather than against.
In the old days of the dark room, as he rolled the grey plastic in a non-touching spiral, emulsion side down, on the wire rolls, and dropped them into the stainless steel canisters, absence of light was important too.  There was power and purpose in the darkness.
Sometimes he missed those simpler times when everything was black and white, or at least only about 256 shades of grey. Then, the light went through a screen that was sucked down over the paper on the vacuum board. In those days, the most pressing requirements were being sure to keep the right side up, or down, or in between. That, and constant metallic feel and taste of D-76 in the back of the throat. Or remembering if it was necessary to push film, shot in available light from basketball game two stops or one, and is it going to be ready in time, or does it need use of the Japan dryer to hit deadline?
There was no need for help, then. His was a solitary existence at times but he never asked for any help and didn’t ever think he would need it. Like the rest of the family, he would never admit he didn’t know something, which was OK for the longest time because, then he could remember things that others could not, like whether or not to push two stops or one, with film shot in available light in a specific gym.
Memory is eventually treacherous, however.
With time, it is susceptible to double-cross. It is shaky ground upon which we are prone to build upon anyway, but can fall away — leaving no foundation underneath. Photos and other important products of the light, like truth and sunshine, seemed more stable.
What’s the answer? A guess maybe, it is to build like a spider instead, sending out strands past furthest ramparts of security, past the comfort zones, into the woods, and sky, and even into the light.
As he probably always suspected, there was comfort, grace, solace — and perhaps even life itself, in the light.

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