ROAD TO THE UNKNOWN
Beginning with the denotation, this still image is split in half into two large frames set horizontally by the trees on the left and right sides of the bottom half of the image. The bottom frame is then split into two more frames by the train tracks. The figure is in the bottom frame. The left set of tracks frames the figure that is in the middle. Both sets of tracks create lines that meet in the middle of the image where each element of the photograph blends together, creating one solid color, forcing the eye to focus on what is in front of the subject. The tracks create lines that force my eyes to follow and focus on the man, but then continue with the tracks until they are no longer visible. There is a very high contrast amongst the colors in this photo. The subject is extremely dark, almost black in color, and he is looking away from the audience, with his back facing toward us. The eye is drawn towards him because he stands out immensely from the light blur around him. The ground is light, almost white and appears to be snow. The entire photograph is enveloped with a greenish filter. In the distance, where all the elements become one blur, there is a white spec or circle above the figure’s head and to the right. The spec could be the moon or the sun. The figure appears to be walking because he is mid-step. The subject also appears to be wearing a jacket, and he has his hands in his pockets. There appears to be a slight shadow around the figure’s feet; however, it is not defined.
Connotatively, this photograph resonates with me a journey to be taken. The greenish hue feels quite eerie and cold. To me, the subject appears to walking away from the audience, and toward the moon in front of him. He is following the train tracks that seem to lead to the unknown. I say unknown because everything from the figure on is all just a whiteish blur. With the figure being the darkest aspect of the frame, and everything else around him is so light in contrast, this makes me feel a sense of isolationism. Because there is not much of a shadow around the figure, I assume this photo takes place in the night. The figure’s shadow would be more defined if there were sunlight. However, the photograph is still light enough to decipher the figure and his surroundings because the light from the moon reflects off of the snow that is falling and the snow that is on the ground, and it, in turn, generates enough light to clearly see around. The trees on the left and right sides of the frame tell me that this photograph was not taken in a city. It was most likely taken in a forested area that is not quite the deep woods, but also not quite suburbia. There are no streetlights, and no house lights. There is no sense of human residency, but there are train tracks, which present an element of human interaction, and prove that this was not taken deep within a forest.
When I look at this photograph, I feel cold and alone. I imagine myself as this person, walking by myself in the freezing weather, keeping my hands in my pockets for extra warmth, but I am content. I am content because I chose to take the “road less traveled”, as depicted by Robert Frost, along the train tracks to open my mind and to follow the tracks to places I have not yet experienced. I cannot see where I am going. The path ahead of me frightens me slightly, but I am prepared to face whatever it brings forth. There is no presence of cell phones, cameras, or iPods. I chose to leave those distractions behind. I want to fully experience and remember this venture without aid of capturing an image or playing a song that takes place of the memories I will make. I do not feel a sense of nakedness being without these devices.
The moon is calling me to it. I let it lead the way. I will follow these train tracks until the sun replaces it. Tonight, as any other night, there is an aura of mystical adventure; however, something about tonight is different. The snow is gently falling, and I feel at peace in the white blur.
The sense of content that I feel is a kind of content one can only know when alone. I feel one with myself, and I am ready to grow. I do not know what kinds of experiences I will encounter on this journey that I am taking. All I know is that they will be unlike anything I have ever encountered before. I left my childish dependence with my family and friends at home. It is now just me against the world. I do not have anyone to tell me how to take on these new experiences, nor do I have anyone to bail me out if I run into trouble. I am independent, and that is daunting, but I am ready, and I accept the challenges of what is to come.
Tonight’s journey will forever change me. My perspective of the world will no longer be the same. My appreciation for all things will be greater. I have been pining for a greater understanding of the world for many years now. My desire to grow and mature was consuming me. The cure to my longing finally arrived when I made the conscious decision to venture out along this path.
I had always blamed my hometown, family, and friends for keeping me from experiencing the world. My hometown, along with everyone in it, was so incredibly sheltered. It is a little place where the school is nationally ranked, the families are well off and always happy, the children are nice, the crime is little to none, and everything has to look and be perfect. I was suffocating. I felt as if I were stuck in a bubble that I could not pop. I could not imagine any other place I wanted to be because I could only think about not being in my hometown.
Then, earlier tonight, it finally dawned on me. My only way to escape is me. The only thing holding me back from the rest of the world is me. If I want to leave and experience life and mature my understanding of the world, all I have to do is walk. For years, I felt imprisoned and frustrated, and the solution to my problem was so small and simple. This revelation astounds me.
The feeling of liberation that I have, right now, in this moment is paramount. I am free as can be. The moon is leading as I follow the path along these train tracks with an openness to the world. I am ready to mature and grow my understanding of life. I cannot see where I am going, and I do not know where I am going, but I am content. It is snowing, and I am freezing, but my excitement for the road ahead of me keeps me walking.