Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The energy at the edge of the planet

What power looks like
Jensen Beach, FL
December 2017
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm standing on a windswept beach, the air blowing so strongly that I turn my back against it to keep my lens from being sandblasted. It's a risk I'm willing to take, because nothing feels as elemental as standing in the soft sand, toes slowly sinking in as you brace your feet, and point your longest piece of glass toward the pounding surf.

Life is chaos and answers are few, but out here, where land melts into endless ocean, none of that matters. It's just you, some incredibly dexterous and brave birds, and the laws of physics playing out on a scale almost too overwhelming to appreciate. I don't feel the wind as much as I smell it, that curious mixture of salty sea air, marine life and the occasional whiff of sunblock. It's intoxicating here, and yet I keep thinking about how little time I've actually got in this place before I have to head back. It's never enough.

Still, I've got lots of battery power and a giant memory card, so I shoot fast, fingers crossed that one of them turns out to be a keeper. I try different approaches, quickly reviewing each flight of photos before changing settings and shooting some more. There's no real plan, and I quickly realize that this is exactly the point.

I think about the birds and the wind and the waves at the beaches near our home, now thousands of kilometres behind me. They're on the Great Lakes, not an ocean, so the visuals won't be quite as spectacular. But it doesn't mean they don't have a beauty all their own. Or that I won't get the same feeling - minus the salty air - by standing just up from the water and allowing my toes to curl around the sand, my feet slowly sinking in until I can no longer see my ankles.

Because in the cold lens of hindsight, it's times like this that define whether or not we enjoyed the journey. And whether or not we did enough to inspire others to do the same. In that light, I hope I'm living up to my end of the bargain.

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