The swallows perform endless dives, their sleek-arrow bodies flashing orange as they skim low over white, sandy beaches.
The smell of the fresh, cold sea is brought in on the waves, in the churning of foam and northern leaves and bits from a distant storm we will never see.
The fish must be plentiful and close; flocks of turns call and plummet near the breakers, rise then plummet again. Perfectly timed.
Waves curl further out, along hidden sand dunes. They crash into stony islands, spraying white.
The fishing boats make their way out early, day after day – and this is just another day – to rock among the sun-glaring liquid mercury waters.
Every time I look out the window, I see some version of this picture and my heart lifts, my imagination soars. I am moved to try to capture it in words and in pictures, only to realize I and countless others have already done so.
I find myself taking millions of pictures of the same things. The same scenes as yesterday and the day before and as last year. And I try to capture those same moments – the curl of a wave, the fly-by of a swallow, the dance of sun-sparkled grass – over and over in words as well.
Even though I know I’m doing this, I don’t delete the pictures or the words.
I keep the moments, in whatever form I’ve captured them.
I keep them to bring back home with me.
To bring into the future with me.
To share with others.
Because in the present, as I feel my heart lift at the view or the soft breeze or the sweet scent of grass that reminds me of another cottage in another place and time, the emotions are so pure. I want to try to lay them bare, to expose them and pry them apart from the mundane and feel them forever.
Is that why we all do what we do – we writers, painters, artists, dancers?
Is this the purpose, the driving force, of creating?
To capture an emotion, a thought, a sensation and hold it tight so that we may come back to it again and again, and bring to others the happiness – the perfection – we have glimpsed?
Grasping at a privately-felt moment can be like trying to bottle happiness, or air, trying to trap a fairy. One grabs blindly, hoping to reach what one knows in one’s heart is just there, beyond the reach of fingertips and words and lens, beyond the six senses, exisiting only in the Other Realm.
Sometimes what we end up with falls short, or does not translate into magic outside the moment.
In those instances, we find ourselves holding only a bottle of water, or sand, or staring at what is in fact a caged bird and not a fairy after all. These may be special in their own way, possibly beautiful, but not necessarily what we thought we wound find when we stopped and opened our eyes to look.
But then there are the successes.
The creations that render creator and audience breathless.
That transcend time and space.
Those successes are what keep us reaching, grasping, creating.
And, I would argue, for those of us doing the creating at least, they are what keep us not merely conscious but alive, not merely breathing but soaring.