2018-2019 ESSAY CONTEST ENTRY: TO FORGIVE, BY EDUARDO ACIERNO

To Forgive, essay by Eduardo Acierno

We were running towards each other, we’ve been running for years, slowly becoming apart, further and further away from each other every minute. Children are screaming for their mothers, neighbors are calling “enough now, come inside” but I lay awake in the deepest of night dreading for an escape.

“Come on, wake up, you’ve been sleeping for so long”
I keep repeating to myself, It’s been a few years since you’ve been stuck in that thought.
“maybe you haven’t heard the message, you see, this thing you’re feeling happens to be wise and won’t leave until it’s message has been heard.”
But I was stubborn and my ears had been shut for some time now, all I could hear was a voice inside my head telling me to give up, because finding myself was impossible, I was long gone.

I found myself stranded on a field, out in the wild surrounded by the vast immensity of nothing but grass, I was alone but didn’t feel lone. The place looked familiar, somewhere I’d been or someplace I’d seen in a dream, those dreams where I also see you, those dreams where we are connected.

I climbed up to the very top of the mountain and stood there in silence. There, I unpacked a small box I’d been carrying, it was empty, something I loved dearly and dreaded almost daily had once been in there, something I had to get back.

The cold breeze kissed my face, the whistling sounds of the wind pierced my ears and my vision blurred like a hazy winter morning, it was cold and I could barely feel my fingers.

I am here to find myself, I kept thinking. I don’t want to feel like this anymore, there must be a way to end this all, not that, but a way where we everything can go back to the way it used to be, back to a time where I was me and you were you and nothing hurt.

“Maybe you feel alone because you’ve left your body”
I’d question myself about this a lot, what if I’d been looking in all the wrong places? I climbed down to the other side of the hill and saw a lake, blue glittery water like liquid peppermint, the sun shining above me.

Emptiness is loneliness and loneliness in cleanliness, I needed to cleanse myself. I undressed and stood naked staring at the freezing cold water, I knew this was going to hurt, but I did it anyway.

I jumped into the water and the freezing cold paralyzed my body the second it landed, my lungs felt heavy and blood boiled inside my body, breathing got harder but I could feel it leaving my body, it was working. I laid on my back and floated staring at the sky. The sky kept changing above me, the clouds were moving, time kept running, and in that moment I knew it, people change and friends leave but life doesn’t stop for anybody, I’d completely forgotten about my mission, my goal, I needed to find it.

I walked back to the place I called home in the middle of that field, the fire had been put out and the sun was about to set, soon I’d find myself dead awake at night thinking about this, about another failed mission, losing grip of the slightest of hope I had of finally being my old self again.

I heard the wolves howling and could see a glimpse of the moon about to rise behind the mountains, then a scream followed and got lost in the piercing silence of the woods. I opened the window and heard it again, this time, it was calling my name.

I grabbed my coat and locked my windows, locked my room, locked the doors and left without looking back. I ran as fast as I could, right in the direction of the setting sun into the depths of the woods. I was tired and my mind kept telling me I should’ve stayed home, that things would never get better, but I didn’t listen this time.

I see a storm moving towards me, the clouds heavy as the smoke from trucks and as black as the darkest of nights, it’s rumbling sounds make my body shiver but I’ve seen darker nights and louder storms, so I face the cold and make it to the forest. Thousands of pine trees surround me until I get lost around shades of green and the dead silence of the never-ending labyrinth of suffering.  

I see a storm moving towards me, the clouds heavy as the smoke from trucks and as black as the darkest of nights, it’s rumbling sounds make my body shiver but I’ve seen darker nights and louder storms, so I face the cold and make it to the forest. Thousands of pine trees surround me until I get lost around shades of green and the dead silence of the never-ending labyrinth of suffering.  

“This is it, you’ve prepared yourself for this” I whisper to myself as I try to catch a breath resting on the ground, then, just a few steps away from me I see it standing before me.

The sun is about to leave and gold flares shine behind it as if it were glowing, it takes me a few minutes to realize I’m seeing myself standing before me. But I know it’s not me, I inspect it closely and reaffirm my statement.

The person standing before me looks healthy, happy, it’s skin is tanned and has no signs of insomnia or anxiety, it’s got perfect nails and a clean shaved cut. I don’t recognize the person before me, but my gut is telling me the opposite.

I slowly lift my hand and place it on that stranger’s heart, I feel it beating, it’s there and it’s running. I quickly put it away and bring it close to where mine once stood and feel nothing.
I tilt my chin up and try hard not to cry,

” I will never feel the same again, I am forever broken.” I say as I break down into tears, the stranger slowly approaches me and takes me into his arms.

The sadness slowly begins to drift away and I feel myself changing, I then understand that the only way out of the labyrinth of suffering, is to forgive. FP

ALL IMAGES By Eduardo Acierno ©  published here with permission 2019

All photos shot on 35mm Kodak / Canon AE – 1

www.eduardoacierno.com
www.instagram.com/eduardoacierno
eduardoacierno@gmail.com

I started taking pictures as a way of keeping some tangible evidence of a moment in order to be able to keep it forever. It started as a way of not forgetting, and became a habit. It’s been nearly 10 years since photography changed my life, it’s saved me actually. I started taking pictures with the camera my mom used to photograph me and my sister when we were babies, the lack of resources and income has always been a daily struggle but 35mm film is pretty cheap and I’ve managed to make it all these years through thrifted and second hand cameras I find around, getting a new camera would certainly benefit my work, not my pictures, but it’d make things easier. I am eager to create, explore and see where capturing moments and keeping them forever takes me. 

Author: JefPrice

Former this & that. Exploring & Photographing since I was 11. Founder of FieldPhotographer.org

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