A Mote in a Sunbeam Frozen in Time

Yesterday I was complaining about the darkness of the morning, and it turned out to be a dark day anyway. At 11.30 AM it began pouring with rain, and kept it up for the rest of the day.

My favourite site at the moment is MacDesktops. There are some good pictures there – so many that I haven’t seen them all yet. There seem to be two brand new ones every day and you see them right away, as they appear at the top of the first page. you can even set the preferences so that only the resolutions you are interested in show up – it remembers that when you come back.

Looking at the landscape pictures that people took all over the world made me feel strange. The clouds in one picture are just so, and will never be quite that shape again. You find yourself studying a fuzzy rainbow on the side of a green hill in a continent you’ve never set foot on, in 1999, and you know that when that rainbow was there you were somewhere else doing something different, completely unaware of all of this. Or there’s a sparse dry plain covered with red dust and spiky brush and cacti, and you wonder what it must be like to live anywhere near there, growing used to the heat and cold and strong colours of the area. Then, right next to it, there’s the cold mountain lake with conifers round it, and for a moment you feel you could step through the frame and find yourself there, the sharp cool air glancing across your skin. You can almost smell the trees and hear the lake slapping gently.

All of a sudden you’re on the verge of hyperventilating. All those moments captured – of flowers now withered, insects now dust, summer days long since sunk into night. And the brooding sense of the people who were there but are invisible – very little idea of what they had been thinking or planning, except that they liked the rainbow in the water spray and hoped the butterfly wouldn’t fly away just yet, or maybe just wanted to finish the camera film.

I’m not sure why I’m even talking about this, except that all those isolated moments from other people’s lives had come together in this one place, and the total effect is like a stream of time. It offered proof that trees fall in forests even when you’re not there to see. Mountains blow up when you’re quietly sleeping on the other side of the world. Other people are there, even if you’re not – observing the smoking mountains, the shattered trees, the ice on the twigs, the butterflies and rainbows, and though you never met these people, suddenly you are seeing all these things not just through their eyes, but through the eyes of anybody else who was ever there.

I downloaded very few of those photos, purely because they made me feel so… and I still can’t find the right word. Maybe it will come to me in my sleep, or when I’m brushing my teeth or walking the dog. Inspiration, striking like a tiny meteor. Maybe.

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