Sometimes, many years later, we understand why certain images remain indelible.

On April 22, 2004, I took a picture of a ruined stone house — or some form of granary — on Il Sentiero degli Dei (the “Path of the Gods”), while walking from Positano to Amalfi. The house was abandoned, but the view from its windows revealed Positano in the distance, amid the fog that cleared as the day advanced. I turned to the north, and took another photo, in which the filtered sun shone on the Mediterranean Sea below; along the Amalfi Coast, the azure light danced on the water.

The Ruin

Looking at the crumbling house, which I did for some time, something spoke to me. I saw how the light fell across the ruins, the varied pattern of the stones, and interspersed green. The structure still stood, yet seemed so frail. Something in, or around the remains spoke to me, as if to say, look at me, imagine, and take in my view.

The View

After my Nikon handiwork, I moved on, but the images stayed with me. I couldn’t shake my search for messages, for something that I needed to understand. Eighteen years later, I reclaimed the two photos, of the house, and the remarkable bluish-green view.

This week I stared at the photos for hours, trying to make sense of them. And as I looked, something inside me began to shift, and I realized that after that 2004 day, I have always sought multi-perspective views that tell stories of evolving places and perceptions. I also recognized that before this walk, literally from earth to sky, I had never walked this way between towns, through ascent and descent, changing views, where goats’ paths became stairs.

Once again, I see the enticing, complex ruins, and focus on the wooden fencing along the path. I see that the house stood for many years, through wars and storms and erosion and replenished soil. Something powerful and resilient is now clear, akin to our stories: I sense the beauty in the broken, the strength in the vulnerable, boundaries perhaps more symbolic than real, and resilience in the face of adversity.

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