Posted by barbarosseferde Temmuz 1, 2007

“The desire for fame and fortune, the need to leave one’s mark, lurked everywhere. TV shows, newspapers, radio programs, songs that have been sung, song lyrics that have been written, compositions, movies made in Hollywood and elsewhere…they could all be considered to be pictures of the longing for eternity. But longing for eternity was not enough to guarantee eternity. Our biggest mistake began here. We thought that longing for eternity was enough to render us immortal.”

The first side to love- pictures of the longing for eternity

I HAD ALWAYS WANTED a camera for myself… because I didn’t want anything to get away from me, I didn’t want to miss anything. I could freeze those moments that drifted by and were gone forever. I could immortalise them, on paper at least. But I didn’t own a camera. And even if I did, I couldn’t capture all of the moments. I had to find another way.

Was a camera essential in order to take photographs? Couldn’t I use my eyes as a camera? And my mind as the shutter. My emotions could function as the lens.

I liked the idea. Before long, I started to apply it. I began to roam the streets in order to take my photographs. I was also free of the burden of carrying a camera and the cost of exposing and developing the photographs. All of the photographs I took would carry the same name: “pictures of the longing for eternity”.

My first stop was a photography shop. Among the bright, colourful photos was an old, faded one. The person in the faded photograph was smiling. Her smile had not faded. But all photographs would fade one day. Every photograph is taken knowing this. Just like this one. Because every photograph is an attempt to immortalise a moment in time. I should have realized that it wasn’t a faded photograph I was looking at. It was actually a photograph of the longing for eternity. All photographs illustrate the photographer’s love of eternity.

My next stop was the street. There were lovers in the street. The lovers were whispering to each other, telling each other that their love would never die, that it would last forever. The promises they made to each were a combined effort on their part, a struggle, an entreaty to hold on to their existence. Every promise of eternal love was actually a photograph of the longing for eternity.

Then I went to an art gallery. I saw a variety of colour and scenery. Every painting was a rebellion against nothingness. Every painting was a scream for the love of eternity. In one painting a boat was drowning at sea. The two men in the boat were struggling to stay afloat. Just like the artist who painted the picture…he painted and exhibited this painting in order to stay afloat in this sea of life, in order to be remembered, to live on forever. He wanted to continue his life in the minds and feelings of people.

I then found myself in the emergency rooms of a hospital. A patient had arrived suffering from panic attack. He was saying that he had died of a heart attack and that he needed to be rescued. A nurse was recording his electrocardiogram. I also took a photograph of the patient. Above it was written the words ” the longing for eternity”.

One Sunday I walked along the shores of Erenkoy. It was early morning. People were running, riding their bikes, exercising. I realised that every drop of sweat that collected at their forehead, the weariness of their muscles and their breathless state, was a picture of the longing for eternity. Exercising was just an excuse. Every movement sang the sweet song of the longing for eternity. On another Sunday, I went to the village of Oylat. I stood on the edge of a cliff. I moved my foot forward just a little. My head spun, my stomach went queazy, and my heart skipped a beat. I quickly moved back from the edge. You may call what I experienced fear. But all fear is actually a reflection of the longing for eternity.

The cars flow by on the highway. The drivers take care not to crash into each other. I came to see that every car trying to avoid hitting the other takes its place in the road of the longing for eternity.

Someone once was thinking that his lover had forgotten him, that he no longer held a place in her heart. The anger he felt, the hurt, the sadness was actually an uprising against non-existence, against being forgotten. I clicked the shutter and recorded his state. Again the photograph that came out had written on it “the longing for eternity”. All longing for remembrance sprang from the desire for eternity.

The desire for fame and fortune, the need to leave one’s mark, lurked everywhere. TV shows, newspapers, radio programs, songs that have been sung, song lyrics that have been written, compositions, movies made in Hollywood and elsewhere…they could all be considered to be pictures of the longing for eternity.

Once there was a patient who used to constantly check his health. At every little complaint he would run to the doctor with the fear of cancer. He was diagnosed with hypochondria. The doctors were fed up with him. They couldn’t understand him, they couldn’t explain every little exaggerated complaint he had. They were angry at all his fretting over nothing. One day the patient told them the truth: “The thought that one day my body will no longer exist drives me crazy. I don’t want anything, however little to happen to it.” His confession was a picture of the longing for eternity.

Every person wanted to, rather than shine for a brief moment throughout the whole universe, live on forever in a little corner of the world. There is not one person on the face of the earth who desired nothingness, who wanted to cease to exist, to melt away. No one was satisfied with small loves. In their hearts was the longing for eternity. People loved within the feeling of continuity. This was a passionate love. Life was nothing without it. One could risk everything for it. Every effort, every struggle, every gesture, every passion, every romance of every person on this planet was actually a picture of the longing for eternity.

The second side to love: Faded photographs of the longing for eternity

Years passed by. What had happened to those photos of the longing for eternity I had taken years ago. I was filled with curiosity. Had the desire for eternity actually been fulfilled? Had all the striving and desire, the resistance to nothingness brought the expected results? Did the people whose photographs I had taken still exist? Where were the people in those photos now? I searched my memory and my mind. I tried to visualise each photograph one by one.

Everything begins and ends. There comes a day when every living thing loses its life. Every photograph fades one day.

All the photographs of the longing for eternity had faded. The day had come when every person in the photos had been forgotten. The day had come when every person in the photos had died. The promises made by lovers had not been kept and separation had cut short the promise of eternal love. Every couple will one day surely part. The couples together in the photos were not together now. Either living in different cities, or in different neighbourhoods of the same city, but having no ties between them. Some still in this world, some in their graves. A wind of separation had blown. Each person had been hurled someplace.

People had been loved by other people, had been appreciated and admired by other people. Bonds of love had been built between them. But a time had come when we faced hate from those from whom we had expected love. Every person who had been loved had faced death and had gone to their grave alone. All graves were rooms of isolation. No worldly love was able to eradicate the loneliness of mankind. The body that had been watched over anxiously would unravel and disintegrate at any minute. Every person’s life, whose world we had a place in, came to an end on this planet sooner or later. They weren’t able to help themselves let alone help us.

Like all photographs, the photographs of the longing for eternity had also faded. There was a sadness, a hurt, a resentment, a heartache, the pain of separation in every photo. Annihilation had stood in the way of every longing for eternity, every objection to nothingness, every desire to exist forever. A huge destruction had extinguished this desire in this world.

The passionate love we felt for eternity could not stop this destruction. All efforts were in vain. So, where did we go wrong? Was this not injustice? What was our mistake? We couldn’t perish. All that we loved, all that we cared for, that we were attached to, none of it should end in death.

Longing for eternity was not enough to guarantee eternity. Because this longing has no knowledge, power or will to do this. It is just an emotion given to us. It’s a desire, a craving. It has no meaning on its own. Eternity did not accompany a created desire. Trying to immortalise the mortal with something mortal itself comes to no end. Our biggest mistake began here. We thought that longing for eternity was enough to render us immortal.

I felt my first mistrust of love at this point. I turned my back on a love that couldn’t bring me eternity. I fell out of love with a love that was the source of so much pain. But I still couldn’t give up on eternity. I didn’t want anything, not one thing, to become nothing one day. I had to find another love. It had to be a love that brought me eternity.

The third side to love—Photographs of Eternal Love

I want to understand: Why do I desire eternity so much? Why is the choice between life and death, between presence and absence always made in favour of life and presence? The answer to this question couldn’t be a simple- “because some feeling inside me wants this”. Because this question raises another- Why was this feeling given to me?

I return to the life I have not yet lost: What do you get out of life? What makes life so important to you? Why do you want your life and all other lives to last forever?

Every being and every life is nothing on its own. No existence has any meaning on its own. If there is no justification for the creation of something meaningless, then the justification for the continuation of its existence is also lost. And this is where the paradox starts. Our desire for every being to live forever forces us to first of all try to understand the question of being. There must be another interpretation to the love we feel for mortal, temporary beings. This interpretation must be directly related to the reason for the creation of all beings.

The desire we have inside of us for the eternity of the living is actually directed towards the function these beings carry. What we don’t want to end are our actions, and other being’s actions; their functions, what we do and what other beings do.

Every life is a letter from the Lord. Every presence, which has no meaning in itself, is a reflection of divine attributes. It has no significance in itself. Every life is where the Lord’s eternal attributes become manifest. What saves our lives from becoming nothing, from becoming non-existent is the recognition of our Lord, the knowledge of our Lord, an indication of Him. What makes everything valuable, what makes it beautiful is the artistry of our Lord, His work of art, His Action.

This is why people are scared of non-existence, why they long for eternity. It’s not the beings themselves that we want to not perish. Because these things, in themselves, mean nothing. The disappearance of our functions, our characteristics, our beauty causes a lot of anxiety for man. What we actually want to remain, what we want to last forever are the attributes manifest in all creation. But these attributes are eternal. What we want to not disappear are not the simple, mortal and finite things. They are the infinite Attributes.

And so every longing for eternity is a love gone wrong. Every longing for eternity is like concentrating on the shadow instead of the real thing. Every longing for eternity is like falling in love with the mirror instead of the attributes reflected in the mirror. Longing for eternity is nothing in itself. It is an indicator only. As a result of our own human nature, the love we feel for The Absolutely Perfect One, for His perfection, for His immortality, can lose it’s way, can get stuck on the shadow, can even fall in love with love itself.

In reality man is dependent on an Eternal Being. He can’t live without Him. He is in love with Him by nature. All of the love felt throughout the cosmos is an affection for His Names and Attributes.

Only an Eternal Being can bestow eternity on man. Because the Eternal One wants the manifestation of His infinite Names to last forever. So He gives man eternity. Something which is not eternal, which has a beginning and an end cannot bring anything from nothing to “here and now”. The One Who can bring everything into existence and Who celebrates the manifestation of His Names can also make this manifestation last forever. He is One Who destroys nothing. One Who creates, instead of destroying can also create for an eternity.

Eternity is a photograph that never fades. Because it is immortal. And the love felt for it will also be immortal. And so He will be The One to render mankind eternal. His Eternity will be enough for man.



© 2007, Mustafa Ulusoy


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