In the darkness of night
Is it June already? I must be having a lot of fun, because time is sailing along. I finally managed to poke through more of the film photos from Taiwan that were taken back in March and found some that I quite like. Over the weekend, I think I discussed photography/writing with a new friend. (I say "I think" because I was a bit tipsy and can’t be relied upon to remember everything in exact detail.) I do remember briefly showing him my Flickr account and explaining something about how photography is my way of recording memories because my memory is very much imperfect.
Or at least, that’s what I think I said.
It’s hard to remember what one’s said in front of a cracking fire in an otherwise dark room after more than a few glasses of red wine. I so clearly remember how the fire looked, the sound of it cracking and eating away at the wood, and its warmth on my arms, but I can recall the conversation only in bits and pieces.
But anyway, where was I going with this? Ah yes, the photo above. The memories do blur, but I still remember taking this photo, standing in the darkened alley staring at the lights in the distance. It reminded me of those alien abduction flicks where people are walking into such a bright light, the dark shadowy edges of their bodies blurring and disappearing into a whiteness. It’s the kind of brightness that you imagine to end in something eerie or amazing, the kind of brightness that forces you to hold your hand over your squinting eyes.
I remember how it felt in that alley, surrounded by the noises of the market in the distance, the smells of damp cardboard mixed with mustiness, the cool air lazily blowing past me. This entire trip, I felt a tug upon my heart. It consisted of the endless possibilities of the future, the necessary goodbyes to make it so, the slight heartbreaks, the fortification of my tough shell.
By nature, I’ve always been good at discarding the mantle of my current life and moving on to the next stage with barely a glance back. It prevents me from becoming too sentimental, but it also makes it hard for me to understand the ache others might feel. Why do so many feel this ache? Is it a weakness, a flaw? Why do I have such a hard time finding empathy for others going through something like this? What’s even more interesting is that though I have trouble understanding it in others, over the years, I’ve learn how to formulate the right response, the right things to say, the right things to do.
Awfully fake of me, eh? It makes me feel like a robot sometimes, but I know that if I just follow my little script, hopefully it will work and no one will guess I just don’t get it.
Or maybe I do get it, in my own way. My lack of empathy also makes it hard to understand when I myself feel a similar aching for old friends and familiar places. I feel a strange anger towards myself for being just like all the other sentimental folks out there. But oh right, I’m just human. Guess I should try to remember that more often.