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At the edge of everything, I seem to find the fullness of self. One more step leads into a fall or a drift which will break me to pieces. This balancing act, of leaning out over an empty drop, while still aware of orbits and anchors, is a path I’ve followed all my life. Like a trapeze flier, or walker of high wires, the attention I attract is not usually due to fond familiarity but to the possibility of failure. And of failure with consequence. Extinction, scars or exhaustion. But here at the edge there is energy and treasure to grasp and collect, not just from being in places without people, but from being forced by planetary grandeur to admit that in the end I am a person without a place.
My schedule warps out here, appointments and opportunities wither or wane, but the clock ticks differently at the edges of self, and with each new encounter I feel that my measures of time are extended; not many moments of mine resemble each other, and I remember exactly what I had for lunch the day the osprey flew at me with talons flared, the smile of the waitress when I wanted to know her name before ordering. And this picture, of rocks jutting into the northernmost ocean at just the right time of light, reminds me to keep collecting small singularities of sensation and balance, because in this way I delay dying. It would certainly be nice to have a face in front of me expressing concern for my feelings or my wounds, some soothe to smooth my worries, because people care for me from a distance, in theory, and it is my job to provide relief from anxiety when I am in the presence of the people who love me; this is the price I gladly pay to be free to do as I am impulsed. Still, this image of rock and ocean, sky and sunlight, beams at me from the drop or the edge I am trying to describe. Yes, I am free to do as I want, but not to have what I want, which is a love without condition, close enough to always touch, the sort of binding force of family or a lover of long years, a sense of place in a world that will always be shatteringly temporary. I admire the rocks, the water, the plays of light, but the whole picture, the purity of moment, misses something vital, I admit: the difference between me being a who or a what.
From the limit of identity, perhaps I am glimpsing something we try to define as a soul, an idea corrupted by the infantile idiocies of religion. A soul of self revealed at the edges of being and becoming. Perhaps I can only ever see a small part of it. The possibility of being in such a lovely place at such a delicate time means you will never know the entire reality of who or what you are, and this flaw in the formula of being human is exactly the imperfection we need to keep longing for something just out of reach, that perfect moment without time or ego.
above 66 degrees north, toward Krossnes, Iceland
10 secs. at f/11, ISO 400, 34 mm on Nikon’s useful but unreliable 18-200mm lens
Also by seanie blue
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