This place out West, I had been here before many years before, back when I saw darkness. It is one of the places where I first found light. Sun parched lands of history below my feet as I trudged across smatterings of wildflowers and tumbleweeds, the rolling balls of dried string-like things that seemed like what I carried within. Aimlessly rolling with the wind in search of something, perhaps a place to stop for a while, to rest before rolling away again. Under a scorching sun that seemed to serve to only take my very breath away, I moved on black tar roads that rose in waves before me, like a non-existent oasis that promises cool respite yet upon reaching it, leaves the soul in a quiet sadness that it was never really there, never real in fact.
How many demons did we fight on that journey. Stone cold tired with no smokes, too much chance for fire and besides, no one knew the secret, got to keep the secret in the dark where it belonged. But with keeping secrets it changes who we are. We didn’t own it, instead we ended tired each day, mired in misery at the isolation it made us feel. We woke before dawn to move on again, tumbleweeds rolling towards a new destination.
It was so beautiful though, those days of journeying to places I had never seen. I had touched the face of Crazy Horse, standing high on his arm, a mountain carved with such care. We walked The Badlands in the rain, capturing the colors as the water absorbed to form clay that stuck to my feet like cement, as I tried so hard to scrape off the land that had become a part of me, my soul tried to create a new image of what should be. But you can create all you desire, it doesn’t make it true. Like putting lip color on a pig, I laughed when I heard that term and still use it for it just shows you can try to hide something, make it pretty but it doesn’t change a thing. I couldn’t change the soul, couldn’t reign in the need to stand proud and be myself. I needed to own the negative along with the positive, to see and be the light and once that could occur, like an unexpected gift or image taken, left me to wonder why the darkness had ever been allowed to be there at all. Turn the switch on and be. I know this now.
I think my favorite image was traveling a never-ending road as the sun came up, how I tried to capture it, to keep it forever. I had forgotten that once having seen it, I was forever holding that in my memory. Not a camera card to be lost, just a moment in time as the cool morning wind found my face and the smile I held, etched forever, in the birth of that first ray of light. It was a trip that made me strong. It allowed me to know that no matter what happened, I could do something so amazing and make it through. I learned how to be me.