Below are two photos: the first overlooking Princes Street Gardens, and the second of Edinburgh Castle, both taken on the first of three days I spent in Edinburgh earlier this year. Looking up at the castle, listening to bagpipes play nearby (a sound I didn’t genuinely expect to hear while in Scotland), I was reminded of why people—and Americans, in particular—love Europe so much: everything is impossibly, mind-bogglingly old. And as if being old isn’t enough, everything remains beautiful. In a world rapidly evolving, in which technology built in April can be obsolete by May, in which we favor trends over longevity, these monuments from the past remain standing, only growing more wonderful with age.
Although I’m sure I’ll say this every few months for as long as I carry a camera, I wish I’d had the skills then that I do now. I find myself scrolling back through old versions of photographs, obsessively lamenting over the style choices I once made, afraid that I’m unconsciously making the same poor decisions today. Worse still is that many of those pictures are gone forever; some are lost deep in my hard drive, and others I simply neglected to save.
I mentally remember being there and, realistically, that should be all that matters. But as someone addicted to documentation, it still feels as if I need evidence that is both tangible and aesthetically reflective of the experience I felt I had. I want not just proof, but idyllic proof that I stood in that park, felt the winter air lashing at my face, and admired the late afternoon sun falling on the historic cobblestone streets.
But as I said before, the beauty of these places lies in the fact that they are so old and have stood the test of time—the same time that so many other things have been permanently lost to. And so, while perhaps the exact lighting and mood and context of the moment I first stood there will never occur again precisely as they did before, it doesn’t mean that I will never return and have another opportunity to make another memory. For hundreds of years, Edinburgh Castle has stood on Castle Rock; and while we should never take it for granted, I hope with all my heart that it will stand there for hundreds more, so that people and their children may return again and again, seeing it anew each time in all of its ages-old glory.