It’s right there in front of you, that Shangri-La, that eternal spring.
I mean, how else would it keep finding its way into your camera? You click the shutter thinking that you’re taking a picture of one thing, and hours later when you look at the results, you see something more, like those double-exposed pictures that the Victorians tried to pass off as photographs of ghosts.
“I have a similar train of thought at peak of each season,” says the sylph, “a desire to stop the world for a geologic minute, a general sadness that it will pass.” Me too.
But the passage itself is so beautiful: that way-making, that semi-conscious inscription of memories in nerve-map and neural net, in slowly fraying muscle, in thinning bone. Heraclitus’ river, the one you can’t step into twice? Why not say that it is reborn each moment, like any stream or spring? The Indians of La Florida – the flowering land – didn’t lie when they told Ponce de Leon about a fountain of eternal youth. They couldn’t know that he would put a self-centered spin on it.
In my camera’s Shangri-La, green tigers stalk the numerous descendents of those wasps who long ago fell to earth and lost their wings. Birth alternates with death and joy with suffering, as in any divine comedy; only those for whom all distinction between individual and tribal existence is meaningless can escape death. And these immortals – too small to be glimpsed except through the finest optics – are running the show.
Welcome to planet Earth.