What can I possibly say – or write – about this photograph of a father, his daughter, a motorbike and an ice-cream, in the main square of Antigua, Guatemala?
When I look at it a sentiment awakens within me, and I can’t really find the right words to describe or to transmit the exact experience. Why? Because it seems that this sentiment – not just a feeling – is somehow bigger than words. There is nothing here to be understood, just something to capture. A certain harmony, maybe the equilibrium of the moment, a “decisive moment” as Cartier-Bresson would call it.
Words are important, of course, but they are not essential. We always want to know, to understand, and words are quite efficient in transmitting ideas and concepts. But can words transmit a deep sentiment? Or an intuition? Are they really the vessel of intelligence or is not intelligence the ability to discern, which doesn’t have anything to do with words? Can words emanate light, or cause a mystical experience? No.
Are words an indispensable part of the wonder of an artistic experience, are they necessary in order to capture beauty, to feel united with nature, to meditate? Again, the answer is no.
Words are important, but they are limited. There is an entire life beyond words. Elevated states of consciousness could never be expressed with words.
The real drama is somehow that we have replaced the quest for experiencing and living with the quest for understanding.
We have fallen into the illusion that understanding is enough, that understanding is the real purpose and that once something is explained with words and understood, there is no need to experience it any more.
But is that true? I hope not. If we had to choose between “understanding love” or “being in love”, the choice would be clear. Love is to be lived, it cannot be limited by words, even by the most subtle and precise ones.
Nothing can replace the sentiment, the experience of being in love. And nothing should ever replace it.