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.
Slowly, that concept is turning over in my head. I’m not sure why this image is caught up in that, really, but it is. There was something about that day when this photograph was taken, and it wasn’t just the nuances of being in a new-to-me place and meeting new-to-me people. It was something more than that, perhaps just the getting out and doing, and the departure from more static patterns.
“The all that might become” is a thing both attached to, and filtered by “the all that never was”, but it is a brighter thing, a needed thing, an internal separation from that tendency to keep looking over my shoulder at all the things that didn’t go as hoped and planned.