Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Setting Sun

The wonderful thing about photographs is that, when they're your own, you can step into them in your mind's eye. Every picture has a story, but more than that, it also has a range of sensory memories. Take this little beauty above.

It was the last day of the trip to Egypt and the sun was sinking rapidly. Jon nipped off to get his camera (we had ours handy) and by the time he'd rushed back the Mighty Ra had been swallowed by the Nile again. If ever there was a blink and you'll miss it moment, this was it.

The small group of us stared out on the shadowy Nile, breathing in the heady scent of Jasmine in the evening heat and listening to the Nile softly lapping against stone. If you gazed just right, away from the hotels and tourist feluccas, you were transported across the centuries and gently deposited 2000 years ago or more. Nobody spoke for a few minutes; each of us was in our own private communion.

I have thought about that sunset moment many times since then, regularly reflecting on the need to embrace the moment (I was never one for seizing). Whatever our beliefs, we are in the here and now for a finite time. I had cause to consider that once again yesterday when I received word that a friend of mine (also a writer) died unexpectedly last week.

Sometimes it's easy for us to get so caught up in the business of daily life that we forget what it is to truly live. My friend seemed to understand that principle. Practical, capable and creative, he was one of those people who always had a clutch of projects on the go, but who nonetheless had time for other people. Although we never quite got our arts projects off the ground - the funding race we thought was a sprint turned out to be a marathon - we had fun together at our ideas-and-cakes meeting. I'm humbled - and a little bit ashamed - to realise that I still have a couple of his stories left to read. He not only wrote well, he lived well. Another sun has set.

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