The pictures I’ve chosen to share on this site have been almost exclusively “found” photos – in other words, naturally occurring scenes or subjects (the exceptions that come to mind are the photos of compliant family members that resulted from my bossy posing directives).
Recently I’ve taken an interest in a conceptual approach, where the pictures are more “staged” in order to illustrate an idea or emotion. I’ve kept most of these photos to myself, since they’re more personal.
This one, though, came to mind when I learned that the WordPress Photo Challenge this week is liquid. True, the “liquid” isn’t the subject of this photo, but water is a key component here.
I had been at the dollar store to pick up some tissue paper, and when I walked through the craft aisle to get to the checkout, a package of clear miniature corked bottles caught my eye. Inside each of the eight bottles was what looked like a tiny, rolled up slip of coloured paper.
I stood there, staring at the package. For what reason, I didn’t know. I’m not really a crafty person and I surely don’t need more trinkets lying around the house (I have two school-aged children and therefore far too many items lying around the house). Feeling a bit ridiculous, I bought the bottles, though I didn’t know what on Earth I’d use them for.
That became clearer when some days later I planned a morning photo walk on the beach, and remembered the tiny bottles. Aha! Surely, an appropriate location for such props. I pocketed the bottles, and when I got to the beach, I plunked my toys in the sand and watched them shine in the sunlight.
My mind began to wander beyond the fake rolls of paper in the dollar store containers. What might be written in an actual message tossed into an ocean? Declarations of love? Pleas for help? I imagined it being carried to its landing place by the perpetual currents and waves of the water: the water of life, both literally and metaphorically. Both gentle and wild, both predictable and erratic, both beautiful and vicious. A perilous journey, no doubt.
I thought about the likelihood of a bottle being lost in the depths, or broken on the rocks, or swallowed up by some creature. Or, less likely, swept to safety on the shore. I thought about who might discover it, and what they might do with such a message, and whether they would somehow be changed by this act of fate or coincidence. I thought about the writer’s necessary sliver of hope and lack of expectation in believing that another human being would eventually be at the other end of this improbable attempt at communication. I wondered whether the feelings and facts committed to paper would’ve been altered over the passage of time needed for such a crossing.
Maybe the messages we leave – in bottles or otherwise – are our attempts at affirming our identities and existence. We. Were. Here.
Pictures made, I gently scooped up my bottles, the sand clinging to their smooth sides. Perhaps they served their purpose, and I can pass them on to my kids. Maybe they won’t be interested. But maybe they will. Maybe they, too, will hold those tiny bottles in their hands, peering through the glass, and wondering about the words that might be curled up on those colourful slips of paper.