We are all haunted. Ghosts line the edges of our rooms, staring at us from the walls, emerging from old drawers and rising from the pages of our books. But we take our ghosts for granted now. Indeed, we see them every day. They are our images of moments gone by, moments that have morphed to memories, memories which are ever tossed and turned in our minds, until, like a stone in a river, what was once sharp is worn smooth and dull. Then it is impossible to be sure whether something once undeniably real and alive was ever really there, or whether it was merely a flash of imagination. Yet the ghosts linger, vivid as ever. The ghosts remind us. What is a ghost, but a photograph?
A photograph is not a moment returned from the dead. A photograph is just a sign, a shadow, a window onto a time and place that once was, but is no more. You can see the scene, the place, the person, and the moment. The memories come rushing back. Still, you can’t go back, you can only peer, hopelessly, through the window. You can touch the picture, but you cannot feel it. The ghost is ethereal. There is no cool wind rushing through your hair as once there was, no dirt squishing beneath your toes. You cannot hear the birds; you cannot smell the flowers; you cannot look around, side to side, up, down, behind. A photograph is only a ghost.
They ought to seem like something from another world. Hold the button, wait for the flash, and watch as the scene is spirited into view on Polaroid. Then seal it in an album, show it to a friend, transfer a memory from one mind to another. A scene that passed before my eyes last week is now visible to you, though you had never been there to see it. Now my ghosts haunt your mind, and even after I am gone, these ghosts may linger, to become the subjects of stories that endure. You never felt this wind, this dirt, never heard these birds or smelled these flowers yourself. So you imagine. You imagine the scene beyond the frame, and legends are born.
These are my ghosts.
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