I carelessly dump my camera bag and flowery backpack on the dusty path along the cliff’s edge. Cradling my weighty Nikon in my hand, I look out to sea and watch the crashing waves smash into the rocks. People are watching me as they walk by. Their eyes glance down at the telephoto lens that is fully extended to 200mm on my camera. I feel important. In a time when I actually feel useless, I’m portraying an image of myself that looks like I know what I’m doing.
The cliff is crumbling away. I notice some pink flowers on the edge. Kneeling on the cliff, I look through the viewfinder and focus on the plant whilst the sea lies blurry in the background. The shutter makes that beautiful ‘CLICK’ sound that I adore.
A man in his fifties is being pushed in a wheelchair by a well-dressed woman and a couple of people in their late-twenties walk alongside. The woman is chattering away and they all laugh occasionally. The chap in the wheelchair looks at my camera; he smiles, nods and then goes by. They all look happy in the Saturday sunshine; the glowing heat warms their faces. The man’s cheeks in particular.
Despite being alone, I don’t feel it. I have my trusty camera, three notebooks and the thoughts that fill my mind. However, such thoughts aren’t the best company. My head feels like a waste-paper bin which is full with scrunched-up balls of paper, yet people keep chucking more in which makes them overflow onto the floor. I wish I could sort through the rubbish and remove the worst ones, but I suppose time will just have to get rid of those unwanted bits. The most prominent piece of junk on the top of the pile is some recent news. A friend of mine has a brain tumour. I found out an hour or so before I drove myself to the sea-side. She’d also mentioned my name in the final paragraph of her blog where she’d announced it, which just destroyed me.
Where there are no words, there are tears. Tears represent the language that my lips could not form. My mind and my feet immediately went to the beach. The waves seemed the most appropriate thing to watch. My camera made me feel important when I had originally felt useless.
Seeing the people walk by reminds me of the variety of life. So many people are in different situations. Situations we can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be in. Like the man in the wheelchair. Or what it must be like to have something on your brain.
I’m frustrated. Frustrated that a friend, who is an incredible writer, is trying to be stopped doing what she loves by a stupid tumour sitting on her sweet, little head.
John Green was once quoted to say that, ‘When it comes to knowing and loving each other, empathy is an imperfect tool but the only one we have.’ We can never fully understand how someone is feeling, as we’ll never be in the exact same situation, but simple signs of love mean so much to someone. I wrote a short, poetic note to my friend whilst sat by Lymington Quay that same day. I photographed it and sent it over to her. I know how much it meant to her, especially in this time.
The next time I used my camera was two days later at a different beach for my brother’s engagement photo-shoot. I felt at home with my camera back in my hands, doing something to bless my family. It was beautiful and wonderful. I’ve photographed the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Edward before, but this was by far my favourite shoot.
People need to show their appreciation for others more. Write little notelets. Take lots of fun selfies with the people you love. Text someone and tell them why you love ’em. Use your giftings to bless others in creative and original ways. It’s SO important. I cannot stress it enough! People may appear on the surface that they’re doing okay, but in fact, they need a boost. A boost that you can provide.
Don’t be like the dusty cliff edge. Be like the blossoming flower that pushes through.