Monday, February 13, 2023

Stairway to not-heaven

Level up
London, ON
January 2023
This photo originally shared on Instagram

In the shadowy light behind the giant hardware store at the edge of town, a rusty staircase climbs upward from the crumbling pavement.

It leads to a single steel door, but I decide to leave it out of the frame.

Part of it is practicality: I’m standing across a narrow laneway, and behind me is a ditch, a wavy chain link fence, and a thickly overgrown woodlot.

Part of it lies in the story bouncing around my head as I try to finish shooting before I lose the last of the late afternoon light.

See, this is a melancholy stretch where almost nobody willingly goes. If I include the door, there’s nothing left to tell, no unseen destinations to dream about.

Cutting it out leaves room to imagine what might be, what we might find if we take that first step, then the second.

The destination might be different for each of us. It might be something of a relief. A challenge overcome. A disappointment. Whatever.

What we share, though, is the journey upward. To move toward the unknown and embrace whatever we find when we get there.

I’d like to think this forgettable piece of engineering is a metaphor for what might be. For possibility.

Soon enough the grey sky turns black and it’s time to leave this empty stretch bordered by an empty staircase that no one ever seems to climb.

So many journeys not taken. So many stories not written after the topmost step.

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