This story is extracted from Images, Voyages, Impressions 2
Contrary to appearances, there is nothing like a right time and a right place. It would be too simple and too easy. Time and place have to be manipulated in order to fit, and you do it either by moving a little, or by waiting a little. Of course, the general setting must be in place when you arrive, but if you do not see it, it disappears quickly. In that sense, you are the one organizing everything, adjusting the details, deciding when it is right. It is true for a photograph, it is true for more general events too. If you are not ready, if you are not looking for something, nothing will happen. The difficulty resides in the fact that you cannot have a clear idea of what to look for, otherwise you would know how to get it and it would blind you to other possibilities. At the same time, you have to have at least an idea that something could happen in a field you are interested in, otherwise you would never be able to concentrate enough to see what could be interesting. In other words, you have to be prepared, but there is a limit to what you can prepare for, and there is also a limit to how much you can manage correctly when it happens. There will never be a right time and a right place if you do not prepare yourself for it, and count only on chance. It is relying on miracles, rare occurrences that, anyway, can bless only the faithful. You have to be on the lookout for an undetermined amount of time, and the longer the better. It could be depressing if you only concentrate on one thing, yet if you are open to many possible occurrences, you have a better chance of finding them at one point or another. It is just a law of probability, spread you bet, win more often. Knowing that desire quickly substitutes pleasure, it seems a good tactic in the long run. In that sense, there could be something like a right place and a right time, but only you make it happen by us quickly grabbing what comes in view and fits your need. It is still a hunting technique, whether you like it or not.
This story is extracted from Images, Voyages, Impressions 2
You see four people at the edge of the fog, busy looking for something in between the pebbles, or at their feet, but what attracts you first is the color of their clothes, bright red and orange with patches of white in an otherwise brown gray surrounding. It is life versus oblivion, light against shadow, fantasy against uniformity. Then you get the vague memory of a picture hanging somewhere in a museum, a Whistler painting perhaps, or a Turner, a nineteenth-century painter in any case. You remember some characters along a beach, bent on something you cannot discern precisely, surrounded by fog. Like the picture, your memory lacks clarity, and it is not the first time that you have insights of that kind, as if there was a repetition of some patterns lost in between other memories. Anyway, if the story here is the story of four people on a beach looking for something you do not know anything about, and if it is a scene you have already seen, you begin to realize there must be a sense of eternity in it. It also means you have a sense of what eternity is, albeit vague. It is perhaps as simple as brightly clothed forms strolling along the seashore, looking for bits and pieces of nothing, looking for something entirely different from what they will eventually find, drawn by the pleasure of the find more than by the actual find, their acts the embodiment of a life spent strolling on the earth towards something that escapes them, but enjoying the search nevertheless. If Whistler painted this picture a long time ago, assuming it was him, it must also have occurred to him that there was, in it, an idea to be represented. Now that you get the same impression from a different but identical scene, is it not the proof that something hides behind appearances?
Story #2, extract from the upcoming book, Images, Voyages, Impressions, 2
The top of the stairway is like a conch, with a touch of light inside. You had to climb hundreds of steps to arrive here, it was not a free ride, yet you had hoped it would be worth the price. So far, the journey to the top has been an adventure. This old tower is full of stories and mysteries. You imagine lots of people coming here before you with their joy and sorrow, hope and despair. You know nothing about them, but you know that they still exist in the worn out steps, the smooth handrails, the glistening stones. You have stopped many times to look up, at least it is what you said at the time, although it was also to catch your breath. You have seen this magnificent conch become bigger and bigger until you were inside, able to marvel at the details of the carvings and the time, patience and skills involved. In a way, you would like to own such an architectural beauty, put it in your home, look at it with delight, but you know that even if you could, it would not be reasonable. You do not have the rest of the building to go with it, and besides, you are just passing like everyone else. So you linger a bit more, hoping that nobody will come and spoil the moment. Then you take the little door that opens to the outside. More light, the light of the sun this time, it makes you blink. Gradually you make out the red roofs of the old town below, the new buildings shining white further on the other side of the river, and far in the distance, the first mountains. On your right, an iron cast angel blows into a trumpet, and behind, the slatted roof of the cathedral with its two fine towers looks to the north. What a view! You were not sure it was a good idea to come up here. There were many other things you wanted to do with the short time you had, but for once you are glad you followed your instinct. You are now above everything in this town, and you had forgotten how wonderful it is to be on top of the world.
From the book or ebook "Images, Voyages, Impressions" 52 stories and 52 photos, see info on the right
A trail in the countryside is like an invitation to travel. You know you will not go really far as you are on foot today, yet it is still worth following it. You can, after all, find adventures anywhere if you are ready for them. You have never walked on this trail, it could be disappointing, but from where you are now, it looks inviting. In your stomach you already feel the expectations of all there is to come. You see a grove not far away, and you wonder what will lay there: a pleasant place to read a book hidden in wild grasses, a tree with fruit nobody will claim except you, or a hare that will jump in front of you and make your day? Most likely, the trail will just go further without anything special to remember, but at that point, it will be too late to turn back. Your legs will have warmed up and told you they are ready to go further and further until you know that you have had a really good walk. Even if you saw nothing in particular, you will realize that you just enjoyed being outside. You enjoyed feeling the alternatives of sun and shade on your skin as the clouds passed quietly in the sky. You enjoyed feeling your body relax and your mind forget what was bothering it. It is quite possible that there was a nice place to lie down and read a good book, yet you did not see it. You even forgot to look for it after a while. It was enough to walk and daydream. The quest was just an excuse to get you started. If you want to read, there are plenty of places where you already know you can go. The problem is, you do not have that much time to do it anyway, and when you are outside, you prefer walking and seeing what there is to see. The hare, oh yes, you saw one which was fun, you also soon forgot about it. There were no fruit trees, but you do not eat that much fruit to begin with, so it does not matter after all. In fact the reasons you may have to do something will not always be the reasons that will make you finish it. There is a magic at play in daily endeavors that will sometimes transform the way they are perceived. It is surely why life is good, and full of uncertainties waiting to be discovered.
More stories and photos in the ebook "52 weeks" (see info on the right side under "new in 2012")
You are hungry, it is like you have not eaten for days, and you can nearly smell this bread. It has been baked this morning just before the opening of the market. It is warm and crusty. What you need is some butter to put on it, or even better, some homemade jam, the one your grandmother used to make with the fresh strawberries that she had picked from her garden. Just thinking of it makes your mouth water. It is not that you do not like corn flakes or donuts but once in a while, you crave for bread. It has an old world flavor that you sometimes like with some real orange juice, dark Colombian coffee, white napkin, shiny silverware and assorted plates. It makes a one of a kind breakfast. Even better than croissants that most of the time look tastier than they are, except of course if you are in France where there is nothing like them on a Sunday morning with a newspaper. But if it were here exactly like it is in France, there would be no incentive to travel, would there? The point is, eating is a wonderful pleasure when you take time to choose the ingredients of your meal, arrange everything neatly on a table, give yourself some time to savor each bite, and forget about everything else. In fact, it is an art but you do not have to go to a fancy restaurant to appreciate it, a large round loaf of bread, some cheese and smoked salmon, a glass of white chilled wine, and you are done. The best part of it certainly starts at the outdoor market where you have a chance to see the colors and smell the odors of food, sometimes taste some bites of it, and where you go from one vendor to another in search of the perfect combination for your future meal. If you do not have an outdoor market near your house, a grocery shop will do, do not worry. Then at home, it will be time to plan your next moves: how are you going to set the table, will you be inside or outside, will you need candlelight or not. It seems complicated but in fact, it takes just a few minutes to organize everything, especially if it is a simple meal, and it builds your appetite and expectation. Once seated, everything within reach (it is always so annoying to realize that you forgot something on the kitchen counter!) it is time to enjoy. Bon appétit!
Story # 4 from my book Images, Voyages, Impressions (also available as an eBook, see post on the side or tab eBooks)
_ _ Today you will go to the islands, the ones you thought about many times but never had a chance to visit, always too busy doing something else. You arrived way too early to embark. The ferry was not here yet, the benches were empty. You knew it would be so, and you wanted it that way in order to fully enjoy the excitement of the wait. Not the wait until deciding on the trip, that one was lost in the day-to-day concerns of your life, but this wait. Now you know you are going, you must enjoy every bit of the adventure and it begins right here, right this minute, on these old benches. You are eager to see how your other still unknown companions will settle around you. Your guess is the first ones will most likely choose to sit at a distance; you will discreetly glance at each other to get a sense of who you are, yet as time passes, space will become scarce, some people will have to be next to you. Will they be young, old, alone, couples, with or without children? Will they be nice, interesting, grouchy? Will you make friends right from the start, not that you need new friends at this time, but who knows? Will they ignore you, which is perhaps what you would prefer, as it will give you more time to be spectator? In any case, you do not want to miss this part of the trip, this expectation that is the sure sign of a special day. Here they come, two young guys with a bag each, but they already prove you wrong. They do not sit on the benches, they lean on the railing in front of the sea, next to the chain that closes the way to the embarkation dock. Could they be students coming back home for a vacation? Seasonal workers hired to help in a restaurant? You do not have time to find the answer: a group of adults and children is coming noisily towards your seat. For sure they are going on a day trip to the island; you can see that they have everything they need for a day at the beach. Yet they go further and disappear behind a corner. Never mind, you start to smile as you contemplate all that has already happened in such a short while, and you know you were right to come early. It is going to be a memorable trip.
Extract from the ebook Images, Voyages, Impressions, available on iTunes for your iPad, iPhone, iPod, Amazon.fr and Amazon.co.uk for your Kindle
_ It is fall again, the geese are back. You always hear them before you see them, it is the reason they are the delight of the apprentice hunters. Luckily for these here, they are flying over conservation land so they are safe, at least for now. As they trumpet their approach, you search the sky to locate them, and here they are. They make you dream. You never grow tired of watching them fly in their V formation, sometimes a perfect V, most often a rather loose one, you must admit. For you, they symbolize freedom. They remind you of a novel your teacher read to the class when you were in fifth grade, if the day had been good. A novel from Sweden, or Finland, or one of these far away places, with two main characters, a goose and a young boy. Why was he flying on the back of the goose, or was it a swan, you do not remember? Nor do you remember where they were going, or what exactly was happening to them, yet you vividly remember that it was a riveting story, whose plot you were carrying home with delight. Flying over countries, meeting good and bad people, seeing new things everyday, struggling against the winds, the rain, the unexpected, what an odyssey it was. More recently, you saw a movie about some other geese, no words spoken, just their cries and their mimicries. It was as if you had entered another world without borders, without limits, except the distance you can fly in a given day. It made you realize that indeed there are parallel worlds, not in another dimension, but right here, in all the creatures that surround you. Do they even notice that you are here? Do they care? These geese have their own agenda, going places to mate and feed. You are mere disturbances along their way. A city here, a factory there, sometimes they get caught in a situation they cannot cope with, because it is too foreign, but basically they fly over. Other predators and events are much more important than you. It is refreshing and humbling at the same time, is it not? So when your gaze follows them for a long time, are you sure it is merely to identify them?
From the book "52 Weeks" on sale now as an ebook on iTunes, Amazon.fr or Amazon.co.uk
_ You would have swear it was insane to boat early on a lake, especially if you are not this kind of serious fisherman that knows it is indeed the best time of the day to catch some bass or other fishy creature, when they are still asleep but already hungry. As a matter of fact, you intended to wake up around mid-morning, yet the summer light had been annoying, pushing under your closed lids, illuminating the inside of the tent, acting as if you had no right to some dark and warm intimacy, making your sleeping life miserable, and, last but not least, bringing this irritating and sudden desire to go to the toilets. You had finally and reluctantly got up, then ended up shivering along the shore, hooked by the mist lingering on the water, the remnant of a mysterious and past ceremony, or the annunciation of an upcoming revelation. Your imagination had started to create multiple scenarios whose reality you were unable to verify, so you had rushed back to the tent, grabbed some clothes -already you were feeling warmer and better-, and came back with your full kayak gear. Now in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the action, you do not feel the need to imagine anymore; the never-ending undulation of the light gliding along your boat is enough to stun your senses. Are you in a kind of fairy tale, will you see elves and magicians? As the light changes, as the sun appears behind the tree line, colors evolve, reflections sparkle, subtle transformations take place. A green gets greener, or catches a ray of yellow, a blue becomes darker, or evolves toward translucent, a flower that you had not notice before becomes suddenly an unforgettable sight in her quiet simplicity. Can you really tell what happened behind your back each time you moved your head in a new direction, or do you have to reorganize your memory as you move forward and look around? Everything has changed again, and again, and again, but everything is still the same, the lake, the mist, the rising sun, the kayak, you. Could it summarize your life, life in general, the beauty and mystery of it? It is quite early on a lake, but you are not far from a profound revelation.
When he does not take photos, make prints, or write stories, Dominique teaches philosophy and train students for Model UN conferences in an international school near Boston, MA, USA .
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