These photographs were taken as one of my many art experiments, demonstrating that while the hessian adds baggage to the subject, it also becomes the focal point of the images. Similarly, negative experiences add character to an otherwise clean slate of mind.
The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a multi-multi-genre movie (seriously, it’s a mix of romance, sci-fi, light comedy, drama… the list goes on) that essentially explores the possibility of erasing unpleasant memories from your mind. Directed by French film producer, Michael Gondry, It’s the kind of movie that leaves your thoughts in a muddle as you attempt to answer the myriad of complex questions it raises. The most obvious question that jumped out at me as the credits rolled was: if you could eliminate a person or an event from your life, would you? Of course, the movie itself leads to the answer of capital NO. Every experience or thought we possess, be it of happiness or hurt, allows us to learn valuable lessons, build character and shape who we are.
My photographs support this philosophy, as does an unfortunate incident I recently experienced.
The most terrifying moment of my life to date was the split-second when I realised I wouldn’t be able to prevent the car accident I was involved in. My heart lurched from my chest as the sickening crunch of plastic and the shattering of glass engulfed my senses, the airbags erupting in a riot of compressed gas and explosive charge. As a cloud of acrid smoke dispersed throughout the car, I reached for my door only to realise it was jammed shut. Again and again I pushed my weight against it, while it stubbornly refused to budge. Deflating in my seat, I admitted defeat and was reduced to a trembling mess as panicked tears spilled from my eyes.
After what felt like hours (but was only minutes) as smoke steadily flooded the enclosed car, someone wrenched my door open and I stumbled onto the street, gasping for air. The following hours involved hugging strangers, being interviewed by the police and tested by paramedics for injury. I carried a dark bruise in the shape of the Mazda symbol in my arm like a souvenir, even though my thoughts provided me with enough reminder.
Nevertheless, I would never choose to erase the incident. While a few more rays of sunshine might leak through my mind without it, I recognise that I’ve learnt a plethora of lessons, including:
- Focus. Near the end of the movie, star-crossed lovers Clementine and Joel are sitting on a jetty, surrendering to the inevitable end of their relationship. Rather than stressing over their future, they choose to enjoy the moment they’re living in. The accident taught me to ignore my rambling thoughts and focus on remaining present.
- The second lesson I learnt is that I belong here and I deserve to be here. I’ve always appreciated the very simple things, like watching clouds glide across the sky, but never my own existence in this universe. We are all here for a reason, even if mine is nothing more than making drama class easier for the little shy girl by holding her hand.
- Materialism matters so little in the end. The number one priority was whether all of the passengers were safe, because “cars are replaceable, you are not.” Your life isn’t measured in dollars or the number of boats you own, but rather in the times you smile and the people you love.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind teaches us that no matter how horrific the situation or heartbreaking the relationship, we should feel honoured to relish the privilege of feeling such emotions, because to ache is to be alive. A spotless mind may be eternal sunshine, but don’t we all crave the moonlight every now and again?