This woman is crying. You may not be able to tell, because at this point, she was weeping only on the inside. It is an invasion, taking a photo when someone is in pain, and I generally try not to post them. However, if I edit what I see, then I serve no purpose as a documentarian. Most things I encounter are neutral; some are tough to see while others are wondrous. However, the camera shouldn’t lie. Increasingly, it does, as we’ve painted ourselves a world wherein no one is flawed, none have failed, all are perfection.
And it is a goddamned lie.
In the world, people are in pain. They sit on subways and the tears begin, and all we are left with is either wondering as to the source of pain, or pretending not to see. Others don’t see; instead, they watch us, the watchers. But the pain is there, and obvious. Perhaps that is what drew me to this moment – the idea that no one seemed to notice the stranger’s sadness. Maybe it was some reflection of a moment I’d seen before, distorted and unreal, as I sat on the train in my own moment of bliss.
But pain is as fleeting as joy; as such, we must aim our artists’ eyes and take the shot. We can only hope we do not fail the test of emotional accuracy.
Whatever caused her pain, and the intense stare of the man at the right rear, it has passed. Coincidentally, so has my moment of joy. I, without meaning to, disrupted the most important relationship in my life. I sit here, in love, knowing I caused another’s sadness. Perhaps she sits somewhere in a momentary fragment of pain, like this woman. Maybe she has passed the moment, and me with it, and I’m left both in front and behind the camera.
Moments pass. All we can do it catch them before they run through our fingers like so much colored water. Somewhere on Earth, this woman is sitting, and she is no longer crying. But for an instant, we were there, together, and she left a portion of her soul with me. And for that, I am grateful.