We are not among the living. How could we be, when we ignore the very roots of our existence – our mortality? To be living is to be dying and we live our lives as if we will never die. Wouldn’t that be grand? Immortality. To watch suns rise and set endlessly. To travel through time as if we escape its grasp.
But what does one make alive – living, truly, sincerely, honestly? Is it fulfilling prophecy or destiny? Is it being written in the lines of history? Is it sailing course towards purpose and complete satisfaction? Are such things even real or do we cling onto their concepts like we cling onto the idea of life?
She sat down on the bench and watched the ghosts pass her by as they travelled along the promenade. The wood had aged and weathered, beaten down by vicious salt air and water, resisting the gales and howling of the winds. She could tell that the weather had been its dominant enemy and not mankind, which made her decide upon the previous. People are fleeting. Ghosts. Travellers, in a way. We go from A to B and pass through several stations along the way. Plato was wrong to believe that man lives chained down in a cave and watches a reflection of the real world through the opening above his head. Man is very much free to move – like the floating souls she watched as she sat on the bench – and though we leave footprints, none of them are with distinction. Few of them are with admiration.
The exceptions were those everyone had heard about. But such grandeur should not be ordinary man’s strife. Fulfillment, the fullest, should be a station we pass before we get to B. Interpretations were, naturally, open to the individual. We are all unique, after all, she reminded herself.
But as she sat on the bench that seemed to enjoy her company, she couldn’t help but wonder. Who are we as human beings? What does it mean to be alive?
‘Tales from a distant past’ is a series that features pictures taken in England, 2012 – a series I still regard as some of my best work. It was created in the hopes to bring life back into those pictures taken the summer of 2012, both through visual as written work. Each picture is accompanied by a short story that is inspired by the image.