Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The water's edge

Sometime ago while making selections of my photo's I realized I was intrigued by 'the water's edge'. Unconsciously I would find myself there connecting, looking at other people connecting with themselves. Like many traditions the Celts revered it as a gateway, a portal to communicate with other worlds.

Water is a solid thing in my life. At an early age I became a strong swimmer. One of my dearest memories is that of my parents taking my brother and I to the local pool on Sundays. From the early years their marriage was under duress and this was one of the moments they consciously made the effort to be happy and try for the sake of family. A happy place from which the love of my parents can be easily rekindled bringing warmth to the colder moments of adult years.

My father grew up on a farm over looking Loch Dan, a mystic lake if ever there was one and a frequent backdrop in medieval films shot on location. We would spend our warm summers crossing its cold peaty black waters in a small boat. Deep, rich memories ingrained by the dark waves and majestic mountains that surround them.

My mother comes from a small island off the Irish north west coast (Arranmore). I've only been twice but this watery place is ever present in my life. Even though my mother left as a young women it is the island's watery edge that provides stability and meaning in her life. The island becomes a bridge, a lifeline with her cousins who crossed the sea to America. She speaks on the telephone, she reminds them of home, a place in their hearts. Evermore in their minds they need to journey across the ocean after living so long in a far off place where the grandchildren have gone to good universities, bought big houses and died in motorbike accidents. Like spawning salmon they must return to the water's edge.

When I'm at the water's edge everything becomes clear, I let go of the stories even though they have more meaning at that moment. At the water's edge everything is complete, ended and yet to begin, like jumping off a tall building and knowing you can fly. It's big stuff but what amazes me is that I see this in other people too, even if they don't see it in themselves. When people meet the water's edge, they change, instantly, everybody, always, everywhere. Even in a drained swamp called Amsterdam.

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