Media Monday: Worth A Thousand Words

by cynthiarendon

Well, maybe more like 500 words. And photography’s a medium, right? 

Travel photography is my porn. Some women look at shoe porn, handbag porn, real porn, interior decor porn, food porn . . . I, though I sometimes dabble in the latter (food, OK?), exclusively desire and compulsively leave Google Chrome tabs open with photographs of curvy mountain ranges freckled with pure-white snow, red-hot erupting volcanoes, tall, rushing waterfalls, etc. . . .

I am sure I’m not the only one who does this, but when I look at these photographs, I imagine myself feeling like I am there. I haven’t travelled to many places, but when I come across a photograph that uncannily reminds me of a view or scene that I’ve really experienced, it takes me back. Earth-shattering stuff you’re reading here, I know.

I was on Flickr (seriously Flickr — and the search-tags ‘travel’ and ‘landscape’ — is my YouPorn) and came across the photograph below that stuck with me for some nagging reason.

image via flickr

There’s nothing particularly exceptional about this photograph. Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful — lush, sunlit, a bit hazy (just the way I love my men . . . I mean photography). But nothing is happening.

Why? Why did I resonate with this sober-looking photograph?

This is why:

Azar Nafisi, an author about identity (not sure what that means either), wrote:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

I really resonate with these words. And the photo above is really a replica of the place and position I was in when I felt this way.

It was the end of a few-hour hike up the Sierra de Perijá. We were finally in the little village in which we would stay for the weekend. I was tired. It was humid, I was sweaty, my pants were sticking to me. And though the air was possibly the cleanest and purest I had ever breathed in — I was also wheezing.  I took my “rescue” inhaler, my small knapsack, and went behind an abandoned house to sit and relax before the storm took place.

I sat, similar to the way the dude in the photo sat. As though I was on a throne, looking at the horizon — the haziness, the speckles of hunter green amongst lighter green, and most of all what the horizon represented: hope. That weekend was going to be chock-full of things I had never done before (this was my first mission trip, after all). And since this was my first mission trip, I knew and was completely aware that I would never feel this way again. I knew that once I stood up, walked back to my spiritual family, my kids, everything would change.

The naiveté, the foolish hopefulness, my quiet excitement . . . would soon change into stress, anxiety, possibly even leeriness and cynicism.

My heart was hopeful still. I knew the next couple of days would be unlike anything I had ever experienced . . . and yet, I was also mourning — it would soon be over and I would then compare every other service experience to this one — the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows.

I took two big puffs (of my inhaler . . .), sighed, thanked God for bringing me to the jungle, and walked back to the rest of my life. Obligingly (and with a lump in my throat), of course.