Exposed in Doonass

In the second week of the visit to Ireland, Toria, Erin, and I took the short drive to Doonass, a local spot on the river Shannon about ten minutes from my parents’ house.

In my teen years, this was one of my favorite swimming spots and not having been there in thirty years or more, the memories came flooding back into my head along with an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility.

I was never a strong swimmer so swimming in a river with real current was a particular challenge for me. So I tended to keep closer to the shore than most, while still feeling the thrill of a big-boy swim.

Later and still in my teen years, I took my girlfriend there and we walked across the footbridge and down by the shoreline just taking in the beauty and feeling the love.

Now with my new love, my Sony A7, I was back there for a different purpose and while Toria and Erin went off and dipped their feet into the water by the shore, I set up the camera on tripod on the footbridge and proceeded to take some long exposure shots with my very dark high-density filter.

I love the flexibility that this filter gives me, allowing me to shoot long exposures in full brightness. A month ago, I wasn’t even aware that such a thing existed and now here I was on a sunny day, exposing the shot for 30 seconds, rather than the 1/400th of a second that the camera would otherwise require.

Such long exposures on rapids creates a smooth silky feel to a glassy river and I have attached a number of images at the end of the blog. The first two are at “normal” shutter speed (without the filter) and the balance are 25 to 30 seconds using the filter. I hope you enjoy.

It was later looking at the images, that the thought for the blog occurred to me.

“You can never go back”, was a sentiment I read long ago and it was essentially saying that though you may be physically able to return to a place you have been, you orand the place or the circumstances around you will have changed to where things are never the same.

Here I was in Doonass, the scene of many a memory from my youth and while the place was actually very much the same, everything about me was different.

Not just my reason for being there, or my companions on the day. Not just the age in my eyes or the slight thinning on top that I now have fallen victim to.

No, it is all about how my life is nothing even remotely similar to what it was back then. Both my parents are gone, of course, and I am now older than Methuselah, the loves in my life have transformed to where I am married, have lovely children, and an amazing granddaughter.

But none of that is what I am talking about.

It is the inner me that truly defines the person I am. Not the outward trappings. And the inner me is nothing at all like the teenager that walked the riverbank or swam so clumsily close to the shore.

For the seventh time in my life, I know what I want. And this is different from the other six times before now.

I appreciate certain things that I barely noticed before. I think certain thoughts that are nothing like those that crossed my mind before. I enjoy certain feelings from aspects around me that I heretofore ignored or downplayed.

Now the fact that I boldly stated “seventh time” above is about as true as my reference to slightly thinning. I have no idea how many versions of me there has been in the past.

I look at several of the prior versions and I hide my face in shame at things that I have done and thoughts that I have had. In many instances, not only would I not get on with the prior versions of myself but I would ardently hate them.

Each one of us goes through several gyrations of who we are over time. For some indeed it may be seven. For others, seventeen.

We get shaped by our environment and we grow based on our experiences and the challenges we face.

Some people grow inwards and become nastier, meaner, more extreme. I hope that isn’t me. I like to think that the version of me now is more tolerant and more open than any of the prior versions.

But howsoever I have changed, I have changed.

And this change alone ensures that there is no going back.

We move through life in one direction and though there may occasionally be times when things are so rough, that we long for simpler or happier times of yore, those times don’t exist. They quite possibly never existed at all and have been reshaped into better times than they were by the fog of age that creeps into our older brains.

So, if we can’t go back, we need to tackle our present in whatever form it is and do our best to shape our future, because that is where our happiness must lie.

In that sense, reminiscing on the past only serves as a distraction from what we must do, now and in the future. People who reminisce such, generally fall into a depression or maudlin state, wishing for something that can never be, not likely ever was.

I have met many people who spend their days talking about the good old days. Things were so much better back then. Life was much simpler. They focus their thoughts and energies on a longing for something their memory has convinced them is real.

But the only real part of all this is what is happening around them now and what will happen tomorrow when they wake up.

So, I guess the point I am trying to make is that in our one life, we have an option to long and reminisce or to plan and do.

Never accept that your best days are behind you, and you will create room for some great days ahead.

… just a thought.