If you've joined me from Flickr, welcome.
I had far too much to write about this shot. Over the week I seem to have collected ideas until they've overflowed, but none of them were totally coherent, totally formed. Origami and water and new life and film photography and hills and grace. I have felt like a fledgling this week, perhaps unsurprisingly, but this has not been a rebirth. I am not wholly and entirely different to the person I was a fortnight ago; there are things which I have clung too and which have brought me solace. Photography is perhaps the most notable, because it is the one thing which always stayed separate from my life before. It has always been solely mine, and it has remained mine.
It was this week, in fact, when I realised that this, photography, is going to be with me forever. But that's another post, and the reason for my mum's old Pentax in the photograph.
The symbolism of the origami swans is two-fold. Firstly, why choose swans themselves? Are they not a bittersweet choice? Most associate swans with love and long-lasting partnership, as they pair for years or even a lifetime. They seem an irony to choose. On the other hand, the Celts believed that a swan’s pattern of migration and transitory nature proved them to be symbols of change, in mood and heart. But the symbolism of a swan is so much more.
In dreams, white swans can signify cleansing and purifying both ourselves and our lives. Black swans are symbolic of self-mystery; our longing to be set free and express ourselves creatively. Perhaps I have been a black swan, and this week has seen a change of feather colour.
Also in dreams, swans may ask us to spread our wings and take flight into our waking dreams. They encourage us to strengthen our relationships, as well as make new, long-lasting bonds with people whom we admire.
In The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson, the swan symbolises the theme of transformation. Although born “ugly”, the duckling is a graceful swan long before he sees his appearance change. In times of challenge, therefore, it is important to remember that we all own inherent power and beauty.
Secondly, I chose to use origami because, as paper, the swans are tiny, frail, delicate. On the lake, once I had left them in the water and packed up my things, they looked so incredibly insignificant as they bobbed on top of the water. Some had already become waterlogged and sunk. But they were exceptionally graceful, elegant, beautiful - almost hauntingly so - in the light. I have felt delicate this week, but I have tried to be graceful. I have tried not to sully my thoughts or taint my memories or turn friend against friend. I thought I had succeeded, until Friday night.
Lo invited me out with friends from her school, to drink coffee and eat Chinese and watch Alice in Wonderland and make a general nuisance of ourselves. I’ve always wanted to learn the art of paper folding (mostly for photography’s sake, admittedly), and it just so happens that one of her friends is a master.
Jonny talked me through bird bases and fish bases and valley folding and mountain folding. But round the table, eating with chopsticks and while I was expressing my outrage at men’s lack of emotional understanding, he asked: “What should he have done differently?”
And it stopped me. What should he have done differently? I started looking for an answer - and it was at that moment that I realised: despite my best intentions I have polluted myself by harbouring my negativity inside. Although it might not have shown outwardly, the resentment and the pain have bottled in my heart, and left no place for grace.
I got to be in love, and it was a wonderful gift. Why should I be bitter? Why should I resent it? It is over now, but as a memory it is beautiful. Like an experience, like travelling or a holiday, it is painful to return to the place you left. But there are memories. And there are photographs.
I have got over my hill. And look what I found.