This is the tree that spoke for itself. For which no words of mine were forthcoming when I photographed it five days ago, and came to respond with The Honest Writer.
This is the tree that saw me assert that when a work of art has its own authentic and resounding voice, writing can only ever be in tribute.
It follows that I would find myself bereft at what I have captured of it today.
The initial image continues to defy description, and so I will honour that by simply asking that the reader take the time to look at it as part of this piece.
What you see today, has me meditating on loss. How I have tried in my own life to turn letting go into a fearless and positive experience; how now, as a consequence of this image, I am drawn to consider that not all loss can be framed as such. There are simply some things which we do not want to leave behind; that leave spaces which cannot be filled.
Perhaps there are two ways then, in which we can approach the death of something.
In the case of those things best left in the past, we might come to see our detachment from them as beneficial, and ultimately liberating. This requires honesty with ourselves in its truest form. But our efforts are rewarded with healing, and the making way for a clear future void of the pain and disappointment afforded by that which no longer has a place.
In the case of those things which we dearly wish we could take with us, but cannot, perhaps this is where the past can offer comfort through memory, recollection and remembrance. However, this too demands that we speak truth to the parts of us which crave what is gone, for while we can honour the past, we cannot live there.
While these constitute different types of loss, what both have in common is the need to let go. This can result in pain, irrespective of whether what you seek to move on from is good or bad – for it is those things which are most impactful, for better or worse, that are often the hardest to leave behind.
I consider the image of this tree, and the one that preceded it, as evocative of unwelcome loss. We are bereaved of beauty, of light, of exultant, joy-giving life such as could not be described in words.
The best I can do is to be glad I was alive to see it; to have stood beneath it, and captured it –
To accept that as much as its loss was not wanted, it was necessary;
Nothing can last forever, and letting go is the key to growth.
When I look at what remains, I realise that a tree is all of life.
That it can have no one stage without its precedent.
And isn’t this leaf, and the branch to which it is connected, beautiful in their dignity?
And which, do you think, is engaging in the poignant, yet futile, act of holding on?
By Emma Hynes
This image and story are part of a project I have devised called There Are No Fixed Stars, my creative response to living with COVID-19 restrictions. On 22 October 2020, Ireland’s highest level of protective measures was invoked nationwide for a period of six weeks. Starting on that date, and continuing for the duration, I plan to capture a new image each day, and write a piece inspired by it. The only restrictions are that I take the photograph and write the text within this timeframe. To receive these daily posts to your inbox, you can subscribe by hitting the follow button to the right, and entering your email address. They will also be posted to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles; I may even read a selection on my YouTube channel. You can follow or subscribe to any of those at the links below. In a time when variety, freedom, stimulation and spontaneity are necessarily inhibited, my hope is to experience these each day through the creation of something new, and that the resulting pieces might do the same for anyone who chooses to view or read them.
YouTube: Emma Hynes
There Are No Fixed Stars
Day One – A Creative Response to Now
Day Two – Suspension
Day Three – From the Perspective of the Dahlia
Day Four – The Writer at Dawn
Day Five – Beneath the Viaduct
Day Six – Nature’s Book
Day Seven – The Lighthouse
Day Eight – Formations
Day Nine – Rebirth
Day Ten – Light Source
Day Eleven –Takeaway
Day Twelve – Vigilance
Day Thirteen – Defiance
Day Fourteen – Exposure
Day Fifteen – Platform
Day Sixteen – Momentum
Day Seventeen – The Point of Shelter
Day Eighteen – The Honest Writer
Day Nineteen – Moored
Day Twenty – Selfhood
Day Twenty-One – Assurance
Day Twenty-Two – Skylines