Playing With Texture

Textures speak to that deeper part of us that reacts and wakes up to sounds, touch, color, light and shadow. No words needed. Words can describe, explain, interpret, justify, but the emotional connection is already there.

Running my hand across the bark of tree trunks as I find my way into the forest, my eyes closed.

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Almost anything can be improved by removing stuff. Simplifying it. Getting rid of the clutter. Then getting rid of even more clutter, which at first glance may have seemed important.

It works with books, photographs, relationships, or lives.

We are compulsive hoarders of sensations, emotions, objects. We commit to impossible schedules and we have impossible ambitions. We want to be everywhere and part of everything. Not miss out. Not be left out. We live on the run and then, from time to time, we inevitably break down.

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Human signals through the fog [English/Français]

It’s 4 am and it feels like the day will never come. It may come on another planet, where things still go on the way they always used to. The sun will rise and the myriad creatures of that planet will bask in the morning light, stretch, and warm their bodies.

Down here, it feels like the outside is a huge underground hall.

I watch through the window the milky fog advancing through the houses, like a thief in the dark, swallowing them one by one.

There’s a special quality to loneliness at 4 am. You don’t simply feel far from the others, or detached from them. You feel as if the others are not there anymore. The planet has been silently struck by a deadly pandemic overnight. For some incomprehensible reason, I am still here to witness the morning after.

I would like to say I only have myself but the truth is that I don’t know what I still have – and who is this me having it. The contours of my sense of self are dissipating and hovering around the room. Slowly floating away through the open window. I am not happy. I am not sad. I am simply not quite there anymore.

It’s 4 am and all the memories that could hurt me, all the ghosts of the pasts, are already here. Watching me with their small beady eyes from the dark corners of the room. Not attacking, just letting me know they are present.

Outside it’s the dawn of a subterranean, fake, engineered appearance of a day.

Signaux humains à travers le brouillard

Il est 4 heures du matin et j’ai l’impression que le jour ne viendra jamais. Le jour va peut-être arriver sur une autre planète, où les choses se passent toujours comme avant. Le soleil se lèvera et les myriades de créatures de cette planète se prélasseront dans la lumière du matin, s’étireront et réchaufferont leur corps.

Ici, j’ai l’impression que l’extérieur est une immense salle souterraine.

Je regarde par la fenêtre le brouillard laiteux qui s’avancer parmi les maisons, comme un voleur dans le noir, les avalant une à une.

Il y a une qualité particulière de la solitude à 4 heures du matin. On ne se sent pas simplement éloigné des autres, ou détaché d’eux. On a l’impression que les autres ne sont plus là. La planète a été silencieusement frappée par une pandémie mortelle du jour au lendemain. Pour une raison incompréhensible, je suis toujours là pour témoigner le lendemain.

Je voudrais pouvoir dire que je n’ai que moi-même mais la vérité est que je ne sais pas ce que j’ai encore, et qui est ce moi ayant des choses. Les contours de mon sens de soi se dissipent et flottent dans la pièce. Ils flottent lentement à travers la fenêtre ouverte. Je ne suis pas heureux. Je ne suis pas triste. Je ne suis tout simplement plus là.

Il est 4 heures du matin et tous les souvenirs qui pourraient me blesser, tous les fantômes du passé, sont déjà là. Elles regardant avec leurs petits yeux globuleux depuis les coins sombres de la pièce. Elles n’attaquent pas. Elles me font savoir silencieusement qu’ils sont présents.

Dehors, c’est l’aube d’un jour artificiel et souterraine.

The masks we wear

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”
― André Berthiaume

Recently I watched a documentary on Ram Dass, the psychology academic turned spiritual seeker (for lack of a better word). I know there’s a lot of pseudo-spiritual BS flying around and a lot of people ready to take advantage of others’ vulnerability and credulity. This guy, as far as I can tell, was not one of them.

Brussels (2019)

The documentary is well worth watching, but here I want to focus on a specific point. Talking to Ram Dass, the interviewer said the following (I reproduce from memory):

We wear different masks in order to be accepted and loved by those around us. It’s sadly ironic because we don’t actually want to be with people who would only accept us because we wear that mask. We want to be seen and accepted for who we are. But we go to such great lengths to wear the masks, no matter how uncomfortable they are. Then, it may happen that we drop the mask. Maybe we’re tired. Hurt. Discouraged. Fed up. Some of those around us will leave, because they don’t recognize us without the mask – or they don’t like us anymore. But some will stay. These are the people we want to be with.

I kept thinking about this. It resonates so much with a large part of my experience.

I wore my masks with devotion. Even in relationships in which I had every reason to believe that I was seen, accepted, loved, I still felt like it’s too much of a risk to drop the mask. In fact, I did not think about it. It happened by default. The mask was so stuck to my face that sometimes I couldn’t tell the face from the mask. I didn’t know exactly how to be without a mask, no matter how uneasy it felt wearing it.

Brussels (2019)

The problem with masks is that, after wearing them long enough, we turn into a version of the grandpa who panics about having lost his glasses while he’s wearing them. Our mask ends up becoming invisible to us.

The consequence is that we suffer because we don’t know if the others care about us as we are or about the mask. But we also suffer because we become less and less able to be without the mask. Less able to manifest and expose ourselves, leaving aside the elaborate stories we’ve built for ourselves and the others.

Dropping the mask may seem like a liberation, and probably it is eventually. However, up to that point there’s a lot of struggling and uneasiness. It makes us feel vulnerable.

But there are moments when it’s a good thing to be vulnerable. To be able to breathe in this space of change and possibility. To take distance from the emotional drama in our heads and watch it like we would watch a soap opera. To suspend judgment and just notice. To let it hurt for a while. To sleep, play, watch, hear, and just be.

Dreaming in black and white

"They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees. 
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods."
(Rudyard Kipling - The Way through the Woods)

My contribution to this week’s Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge (CBWC): Large Subjects.