I really have no idea how this photo found its way back into view after so many years. My brother came upon it quite by accident, going through a collection of my parent’s things. He does not remember exactly how and where he found it. Yet when his eyes and fingers came upon it he immediately knew, that when the current version of that young man saw himself, he would be shocked.
He never mentioned or hinted at all about his obscure discovery. Instead he cleverly tucked it casually into the lower corner of quite another picture. For weeks it was unnoticed and certainly unrecognized by most glancing eyes passing through his home. Perhaps being judged by the few who noticed it as simply some wild hippy stranger from my brother’s past. He, all along knowing that my inevitable collision with it would set off a dramatic and profound reaction.
It rested there mostly unnoticed until I recently came to visit him in Canada. It was stuck in the frame in the lower corner of an unremarkable landscape. So when I just happened to glance up on the shelf where it had been placed. I bellowed out an unrestrained yelp of recognition. In an instant I bounded across the floor to see it more closely in my hands. All the time feeling a strange battle raging inside, one composed of equal parts of dread and wonder.
No longer able to continue to grasp firmly to the present I found myself flung instantly back into my past. One, that under quick calculation, had to be many decades distant. I was certainly not more than 20, nor less than 18.
For me the conflict was simply seeing myself, at such a precious time in my life. Which now in retrospect I believed I had to be at the very beginning of my life's adventure road. The person starring back at me was filled with such innocence and unblemished youthful vitality. Still to be shaped and formed by all the learning and life experience that has taken place in the years, that separates the current version of me now, from who I was back then.
.It was not that I did not know that such pictures existed. It is just that I had not seen this particular version of me ever. Or at least not one so close to the time when this photo was first taken. Instead in recent years I have only seen the safe and simple ones. Baby photos, early classroom shots, all images of myself, securely caught up in the comfortable certainty of childhood. Not a young man who has just begun to sample vitally and fully all manner of the adventures that are composed in the great world around us.
Now a days practically all the phases of our life can be almost continually captured, and then instantly displayed somewhere in the immeasurable electronic void of the internet. A place, in which untold millions of us can and do discharge vast quantities of data, helter skelter, every day.
Despite our knowing how little comes to rest before caring or even interested eyes we still do it. Each text, tweet, and email rushing here and there and yet so little of it touches or reaches others and has any meaning. Every stroke and tap of a keypad streaming at light speed on electronic pathways that hardly ever lead to any real destination. Or at least a destination that matters most to us, our own hearts
Of course this story is one of those same things. I am one of the guilty. Sending my thoughts, and now this image out into the world. Yet if there is any true importance in all this, is that my discovering of this picture inspired me, and if I am lucky, you too might find some tiny inspiration. Be reminded of what a remarkable journey you also have taken over the years. And perhaps more importantly, just how far we all have yet to go.