For years—decades, actually—I have been haunted by a phrase, “the all that never was”. Some of you will have seen it crop up from time to time. It’s relatively self-explanatory, and has stood for many things. It has drifted in and out of my writings, both prose and poetry, for the vast majority of those creative endeavors. Technically, in my head, it meant one precise thing, but as such phrases are for me, it had a facility and use that expanded well beyond its original meaning. It’s the kind of thing which, for a writer who rarely sets down the words which rattle about within his skull, haunts a person. That’s why I phrased the first sentence the way that I did. By “haunting”, I don’t mean, “occasionally comes up whenever I’m feeling nostalgic”. “Haunting” for me means that is has been part-and-parcel with every day, woven into dreams, and wrapped around every meditation—for longer than I care to consider, because most of that has been anything but healthy.
But a funny thing happened, and as funny things do for me, it happened in three parts. Part one, was when I took the image above. Of course, when I captured it, it didn’t look like this at all, but when I took the photo as I wandered along the path at Spring Lake Park, there was a little “tic” in the back of my head. I noticed it at the time, but I didn’t put a lot of thought into it: my subconscious self does most of the processing of such things, so I didn’t dwell on it deliberately. After all, that whole morning and early afternoon were wrapped in pensiveness. So, the second “tic” came a few days later, when I processed “pensive stasis” (and yes, hence the name): particularly, that moment when it occurred to me that it was the last photograph I captured before meeting the person I’d gone down to Cherokee to meet. And the third “tic” came this evening, when I finally opened up the raw photograph and processed it into the version you see above, which is actually how I saw it in my mind the day I captured it. A small, but full, circle.
A shift, a side-step, a twist on my normal side-long approach: “The all that never was” has evolved into a more positive thing, “the all that might become”. That’s a fairly significant thing for melancholy old me. It’s almost like I’m in a good mood or something. That might not be all that obvious from a high-contrast sepia-toned monochrome, but that’s also the point: even when I saw the image in my mind that day, it was monochrome. I was beginning to lay that old haunt of mine to rest. I’m sure I’ll still use it in my writings from time to time (I still have a lot of territory to cover when it comes to things some people expect me to write about), but internally, it appears that I’ve finally moved past the “the all that never was”, and “the all that might become” is the thing that haunts me, now.
And happily so.