At peace in place, but alone in the world

 Copyright JM Schreiber 2014
Copyright JM Schreiber 2014

An empty bench overlooking the reservoir. Ice and snow have stilled the water. In the far distance the Rocky Mountains fade in the distance. I spend many hours along the shore of below this bench and further to the west where the flatlands spread as the Elbow River enters. In the springtime the water level is kept low to allow birds and waterfowl to nest. Although in warmer weather the parkland that runs along the northern shore of the reservoir is frequently bursting with couples, families, children, reunions and other large group activities, I prefer to pick my way along the water’s edge. I meet few others, mostly birdwatchers and photographers with ungainly long telephoto lenses hanging off their camera bodies.

I prefer a wide angle perspective, capturing the vista but keeping the details and any people in it reduced to a comfortable manageable size.

And I wonder why I feel so alienated and alone? I realize that the roots of that feeling run deep and cannot be divorced from an intense sense of being different at an early age, fractured through the prism of living with a mood disorder. But I have also become an expert at engaging with a wide range of people at a superficial level. In recent years I framed it in terms of maintaining a professional distance from clients and co-workers.

Some have speculated that this sense of alienation is essential to the artistic vision. Colin Wilson’s The Outsider was a popular formulation of this notion, of much interest and mystique to me and my friends back when we thought we knew everything. Much more recently I sensed this essential detachment from others contrasted with a deep affection for place in Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul.

Copyright JM Schreiber 2011   Same location in the spring
Copyright JM Schreiber 2011              Same location in the spring

So what can I draw from a landscape like this? A space I can return to throughout the year and always see anew?

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

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