We can intrigue, inform, lure, excite, or invite with our stories, yet cannot pass on experience from one to another. The images we capture serve to awaken memories in those that have them and hopefully stimulate fantasies in those that don’t.
Last Saturday, after driving past some of the most dramatic scenery this world has to offer, I realized I had neglected to capture the view. Tomorrow, I promised, would be different. Sunday came and I found this task was not just difficult, but impossible.
From the river, across a broad expanse of rolling meadows and forests, the jagged spine of the Rockies arose. As far as the eye could see, the Continental Divide stood before us. On our side, creeks run to the Pacific, on the other to the Arctic Ocean.
Failing at my task, I realized that no one could capture such a scene. Words, pictures, or video can only serve to remind us of the real image that exists in our minds. Many times we try to convey an experience by accentuating an important aspect. Sometimes the big picture is the important aspect. In these cases, we are incapable of sharing.
- A woman sits near the window of the El Tovar Restaurant. Gazing across the Grand Canyon, she silently weeps. No one can paint a picture of what she sees.
- Approaching Dante’s View, my breath is suddenly taken from me, as I become aware of the valley floor, one mile below the side of the road. Video could not capture the moment.
- Watching a documentary on Yellowstone, I smell the thermal features. Even though smell is our most memorable sense, we have yet to acquire smellevision.
- Nearing the headlands at Rialto Beach, I am struck with apprehension by the deep unearthly sound of the powerful ocean meeting the rocky shore. We have no camera that can photograph feelings.