There’s this photograph: a snapshot in time taken by an unknown photographer and posted onto a website filled with thousands of images pooled together from all over the Internet. It sat nestled in a series of travel pictures, wedged between a photograph of the Louvre at sunset and a deserted island beach with crystal clear water and sands of brilliant white. It was the kind of image that many would skip over and never give a seconds thought. There was no tranquil waters, nor monuments of modern architecture. There was just a camera, a knife, and a gun sitting on a velvet runner. An odd inclusion amongst a sea of exotic locations, but that moment captured in time sent a shiver rolling down my spine.
I’ve never seen anything as striking as that photograph. I’ve never witnessed another image that could cause such a whirlwind of emotion within my soul. But between the camera, the knife, and the gun there was a freedom and simplicity that I’ve always longed for.
We live in a world where we are bound and constrained by our own creations. We wake every day and repeat the actions of the day before. We commute to work and clock into a job that leaves us unfulfilled so that we can earn enough to buy ourselves a few moments of respite or items of leisure that will help distract us from the fact that we are living out the same repetitive movements day after day. We sit in contemplative silence at our desks, in our cars or on the busses and dream of something more. We sit. When all we want to do is run.
I’ve always had a desire to run. I guess that’s why the photograph left me feeling so fragile. It’s what compelled me to save it to the desktop of my computer and stare at it every single day for years.
I’ve never really grasped much of the world that we live in. I don’t understand who decides what is popular, or why some people’s lives seem to be blessed with so much, yet others are afforded so little. I’ve never understood why hardship befalls good people, or why the wicked and heartless continue to achieve. But I’ve never really wanted to either. I don’t want step on others so that I can have a lot. I want to reach down and help out those who have fallen so that we may all achieve together and have just enough.
Sadly though my mentality is frowned upon. It’s a dog eat dog world, or so I’ve been told. People see your humanity as a weakness and use it as leverage for their own personal gains. Sometimes I try to fight against these feelings. I try to fit in. I wear masks to appear normal. I speak poorly of others in a vein attempt to show strength. But all I really want to do is run. Run and be free. I want to liberate myself from feeling as though I have to fit in. I want to take a camera, a knife and a gun and walk into the wilderness and find a freedom that people seldom realize exists.
But I’m not that brave. A guy like me would be eaten alive in the wild. I call myself a wolf but I’ve been raised in suburbia where I’ve suckled on the teat of mindless acceptance and laziness. So instead of living a life off of the map, I write for my freedom instead. I substitute the camera for a minds eye. I’ve traded the knife and gun for paper and pen. I can’t run no matter how much I want to. I can’t vanish into the sunset, but I can dream. I can create worlds to disappear into for a few brief moments in time. I can create literary photographs that provide a glimpse into a life of freedom and peace.
I use literature to create halcyon moments. When the demons of my past or the anxieties of my present become too much to bear I slip into the memories of glorious phrases, subtexts and plots like an intrepid traveller armed with his trusty camera, knife, and gun. I’m never going to understand humanity; I’m never going to be just another number marching to the beat of the majorities drum. But as long as I have my heart and my mind, my pen and my paper, I’ll never have to run.