Tuleyome Tales: Remembering To Let Go While Still Holding On
Remembering To Let Go While Still Holding On
Lake Berryessa - Napa County, California
By Guest Author: Damien Luzzo
There are two aspects of a photographic memory that truly make it a blessing to have. One characteristic is the constant reminder that there is beauty in this world even if that beauty isn't visible right this second. There are so many magical places in this world and remembering this immutable fact of nature helps you to recall these mystical truths both substantively and visually. In a sense, I never formulate remembrance of any one thing; I simply hit rewind in my memory theater, dim the lights of the external world and see the memory as clear as reality.
When I was a child growing up in Dixon, I was in love with nature. Nature was my walkie-talkie with God himself. If I ever needed guidance or met severe struggle, I spoke through the fish, I let the songs of the birds consume my attention, and I’d even listen in to the buzzing drum of pollinating bees; In order to speak most clearly to my creator and communicate my emotions without reserve and without shame. And this would be my methodological prescription of what I considered ‘True Vacation’. This strategy was effective and it gave me the power to have ‘true vacations’ every time I went with my family to Lake Berryessa. In this placid paradise that I can see vividly with a single blink of my memory’s eye, adventures unfolded, crises were avoided, real and imaginary horrors lurked, great hunts were carried out, and the search for a new world was always a priority.
Lake Berryessa has coves in abundance where the waves don’t dare to enter and the deer come from hilltops all over just to glimpse the sensation of hydration. I have never understood how mankind could kill or hunt such a harmless, gentle specimen. I saw my presence in this cove as a renting, borrowing or invading of these deer and their fence-less homes. To plan out, seek, hunt and kill these wonderful beasts seemed unjustified, unfair and at the very least, invasive and rude. The inefficient licking of the water’s surface was beautiful by virtue of its procedural increase of hydration, and therefore, vitality and life. Even the simple things we look beyond as pure common sense, such as drinking water for survival, are almost enchanting to witness when it is performed by another species. Does their tongue, for instance, succumb as much physical exhaustion from constant licking of the water as, say, the human tongue might? If so, it is remarkable that they can drink so much without hesitation. And if not, it is uncannily mystifying in itself to realize that not even our wildest imaginations can comprehend the same actions being made by a different creature. And then the deer peeks up to ponder your gazing interest, tongue motions persisting as it captures every last drop. I giggle inside from pure amazement and adoration of the deer’s life force and autonomy. The sound of my exhalation causes stirring in its eyes -- a flickering of the left ear, once, twice, and ending with a pause. The deer stands motionless ears elevated, cautious and startled. And in a moment’s notice, the animal is halfway up the hillside from which it came.
In the same hidden coves, there are treasure abound. There a rocks there, crafted by God, just for the purpose of skipping along the surface when given the right toss. There are stones meant for painting along the boulders, for telling the natural world that Damien was here, and most importantly, these rocks were my war paint which I would have to reapply every time I flew into battle. With a previous family leaving behind a swing-able rope, me and my brother would grasp the second and third knots and take our battleships into the crossfire. We would swing for show, for style, for strength and of course, for the splash. My brother may have had more finesse with his swinging battle cry but where I lacked the movements and navigation, I made up for with an unmatched ability to deliver Berryessa the most destructive human cannonballs of all time. As I grew older, the art of the jackknife certainly added to my corruptible capabilities but nevertheless, my nimble brother dearest would steal the showmanship as I delivered my jealousy in the form of wakes and splashes. The rope was my vehicle for competition, certainly; but the rope was also my navigation into the world of taking chances and learning through experience. It was my gateway drug into fearlessness and taking risks. In order to swing, I had to trust the rope, and I did. But the true test of bravery and courage is letting go of that trust, knowing that you can’t hold on without losing progress and swinging back. You let the rope go so you can carry out the mission. And within the confines of the rules of gravity, you follow through with your purpose, your meaning and your mission, and in the end you truly make your splash in reality.
This perpetual reminding of past visualization has a lot of greatness and pleasure credited to it. But, like most things in life, there are two sides to this coin. While great memories give rise to vivid remembrance and the euphoria of colorful day dreams, there are also the terrible remembrances complete with terror, repulsiveness, and the darkness of a recurring nightmare. The times when I have nearly drowned haunt my thoughts every once in a while and the memories of wake-board wipe-outs are painful still. The aching pains of water induced burns from tubing and the paralyzing feelings of sun-burnt flesh ring silently upon each new visit. But this is not so bad of a photographic feature for many simply because we can choose to embrace, ignore or avoid these different columns of imagery locked within.
As I said earlier, there are two aspects of my image-based memory that truly make it a blessing to own. While one is certainly a blessing by virtue of experience and general remembrance, the other blessing is made possible through the invention of time. The many times I've seen the loading dock, for instance, all came to me upon different speeds of walking, different clothing, different postures; I looked forward to different things, at different times of day, with a boat slightly more worn out that what the previous adventure had seen. I may sound hysterical with this attribution of awe towards such an obvious fact of life, that time passes and that things change, but to see it like photos seen side by side has something more. It shows you what is changing. And not just change within you, the beholder, but change of scenery, change of me physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, and what makes it unique and amazing to my recording of life is to see how I am changing synchronistically with the scenery and how the scenery is changing synchronistically with my perception of it.
As I see less deer, I see more and more the effect that we as humans have on our natural surroundings. As I see the deer walk an extra ten feet for water, I see what climate change is doing to our planet. As I see these two phenomena in retrospect, my emotions evolve and my capacity for activism and purpose grows. Seeing the lake slowly dry up has evolved in my perception from a trivial nonstarter to an emotional reception of anger, frustration and empathy for mother earth. Seeing less deer forces more elicited emotion from the same exact scenes of photographic remembrance. Finding more emotion in these same exact memories ushers in new fear, organically derived by anticipated sorrow for what I might feel if such a vivid memory could be, in a split second, forgotten. This makes me cherish new experiences, to stay as mindful as possible of lessons from my past, and to never forget to let go of the rope, so that I can constantly make a splash with everything I do.
Tuleyome Tales is a monthly publication of Tuleyome. Damien Luzzo is the CEO of SaveWithSunlight, Inc. More information about Tuleyome and the Berryessa Snow Mountain region can be found at www.tuleyome.org.