It was late October. The overcast sky spoke of looming danger as dark, menacing clouds encompassed the cold landscape. Leaves, awakened from their autumn nap, swirled around the overgrown lawn, performing a dance of fear and hesitant excitement, pausing briefly to rest on the disheveled cobblestone walkway leading up to the door of the long deserted homestead, only to carry on their fervent display with a renewed sense of danger. Old, gnarled trees, caught in the urgency of the moment, reached twisted limbs towards the sky as if pleading for deliverance from this fury that threatened to rip their roots from the ground ,as unrelenting gusts bashed broken branches against worn and faded siding. The abandoned home creaked and groaned as bitter wind forced its way through every crack and crevice, right down to the very foundation, rattling windows and causing tattered shutters to slam open and closed, while driving rain worked its way into cracked and peeling paint. Lightning streaked across the sky and thunder bellowed overhead as the storm raged on, seeking its vengeance against some unknown and long forgotten wrong.
Processed in black and white, with filters applied to add grain, dust and scratches to give it the appropriate aged and foreboding look, this photo speaks of fear, danger and unseen evil. It’s unfortunate I did not have the time to stop and freeze that moment in time.
Sometimes, finding the inspiration to create something new, something unique, something that tells a story not yet told, can seem like a rather daunting task. I will be bold and say that the inspiration is there in front of us every day; we just don’t take the time to appreciate it. In our everyday travels things are so familiar to us that we pass by them without noticing. The challenge becomes to break out of this hypnotic trance and start to “see” the world around us, start listening to the stories longing to be told before they become lost forever. The above story is about an old house on Loch Lomond road that we drove by twice a day every day for years. It was an ordinary, unremarkable, slightly run down little house, and it was an unflattering shade of green. It sat on a small piece of property that sloped up and away from the road. That house has since been torn down, the trees are gone, the landscape flattened, and because I didn’t have time to stop, its story has been left untold. It has been erased from time and space.
It makes me stop and wonder what else I have been too busy to notice. How much of life have I missed because I thought I didn’t have the time to stop and take in that moment?
“Time is such a fleeting thing”… It’s a saying that I have either heard in a song or read somewhere, and as cliché as it sounds, it is all too true. When you are a child you spend your time wishing to “Be all grown up so you can do whatever you want” only to look back some 40 or 50 years later and realize that those were the most carefree years of your life. Not the best years, mind you, but certainly free of the worries and stresses of the world. The whole time you were trying to hurry life up you were squandering away precious time spent with aging loved ones. Now, when you stop to look, you realize you have finally grown up, but obligations of life keep you from doing what you want, and some of those people you hold dear are no longer there. With age now comes the wisdom to remind you to treasure those who remain and to do your best to make those brief moments count.
I miss my Aunt Lo. I miss her smile, her laugh, her Polaroid pictures she took every time she came to visit or we went to visit her. What I wouldn’t give to be a young girl again, sitting on that big, fluffy couch, playing with her clothes pins, only vaguely aware of the adult conversation being carried on in the background.
I miss my Papa. Although I remember him as a quiet man, I miss his presence. I miss the smell of his coffee on a road trip to the city and I miss seeing him sleeping on the couch.
My Aunt Lo and Papa have been gone for far too long and I miss both of them dearly, but I am lucky to still have my Nana and Mom in my life. There are things from my childhood though, that I miss about the two most important women in my life.
I miss conversations with my Nana. She can’t hear me well enough now to fully understand what I am saying, which is sadly ironic. I was the child she was always “turning the volume down on” because I was too loud. Her memories are all jumbled in her head and the stories I used to love to hear have changed as she tries to fit pieces together into something that makes sense in her mind. There are times I swear she is just making it up as she goes, but that’s what I love about her. She still has that unshakeable wit that is my Nana. I remember coming home from school and searching her out to talk about my day, and as much as I am sure I rambled on, she always had time to put down her crossword puzzle and listen to me.
I miss the bedtime stories my Mom used to read to me at night. She would sit on the edge of my bed, and as she would unravel a tale of mystery and intrigue from the pages of the latest Hardy Boys Novel, I would sit cross legged behind her, combing through her hair. Looking back now, having children of my own, I imagine it must have broken her heart just a little when I decided I was old enough to read to myself.
Reflecting on life now, I realize I spent far too much time working and not nearly enough time enjoying living. I also wasted too much time worrying about what others thought of me instead of just being who I am. I have been fortunate enough to find and marry a man who loves all of my flighty ways, but I know he feels like I have abandoned him. I know I spend too much time at the barn, but that beautiful little pinto mare that owns me has been a lifetime dream and I want to squeeze in every second I can before I get too old to enjoy her. This disconnect my husband feels is entirely my fault and it is up to me to fix it, to let him know that he is my constant inspiration. He keeps me grounded but encourages me to soar.
The simple words of advice I have to offer are… Live in those little, every day moments, write down your heart break, share you triumphs, capture those fleeting images, preserve the present. Don’t let today’s inspiration become yesterday’s lost treasure.