I can’t believe this is the last time I’m able to connect with the blogging community via the weekly photo challenge. I’ve always had amazing time looking for or trying to get the picture that would be just the perfect one for the challenge.
But as this is the last photo challenge, it is as well probably the most difficult one I’ve ever faced here on WordPress. You see, I don’t have a folder with my all-time favourite pictures, neither I have said all-time favourites. How could I? There’s so many pictures yet to be taken – so how can I possible choose my favourite ones when there’s so much potential in the ones that are yet to come?
And so, I’m going to twist this challenge a bit and choose a favourite one from my very last trip – two days ago, I came home from Yosemite.
But now, should I choose my favourite one based on how good the photography is, or my favourite one based on what’s in the picture? Man, I can’t even decide on one from each “category”, let alone only one to be the very favourite one!
On this visit to Yosemite, for the very first time in my life, I met a bear. Yes, I’ve seen a bear with my own eyes before, as a child in a zoo. But, you know, a captured sad bear isn’t really what got my heart racing in the right direction. Seeing a bear in the wild, tearing hungrily on a piece of something that was once running through the same wood and maybe even on the same path where I was right now, that was what filled me with wonder and made me really happy. (Of course, I made sure both I AND the bear were safe – if I made some mistake and the bear went after me, it might have to be shot later on.) When I was far enough, safely across a wild river from it, I took a picture. And although I love the picture for what it means – my first eve meeting with a BEAR in the WILD, in the end, I didn’t choose it to be a part of this challenge.
The next candidate – the one perfect in every sense of the word regarding composition, colour, shadow and light, etc. – a photo of Yosemite Falls perfectly reflecting in calm water of Merced river, didn’t make it here either. I love that picture, I love every single bit of it. But it just wasn’t what I’d want to share with you, it doesn’t say the message I want to get across today.
The one that you’ll see below is the one I chose to share today, on the last day of sharing within the official photo challenge.
It is taken from the very same spot where I saw Yosemite Falls from for the very first time a year ago. I remember, after arriving to the Valley with my host family, on the very first day of the very first time I’ve ever visited this miracle, we went to the Yosemite Falls. I remember it so clearly. We took the bus and walked this very path to the falls. I had to stop when my eyes and brain tried to process what I was seeing. I was honestly moved. And I didn’t know that this view would mean so much more one day. Maybe I still don’t know yet.
A year has passed. I’ve visited Yosemite six times since. And so much has changed.
I was supposed to live in California for a year. In six days from now, I was supposed to be sent home, end of the adventure. But I learned so many things in the last twelve months. Met so many amazing people and saw so many amazing places. And somewhere midway through this journey, I realized that the June when I was meant to leave, wasn’t the time when I was really meant to leave. I realized I wasn’t meant to leave for quite a longer time than only a few more months.
And it started, a few crazy months during which it so happened that I got into a college and applied for a new visa. Well, it didn’t happen by itself, it was a few crazy months full of stress. Not only because of the TOEFL test and a few other tests but, you know, paying taxes, applying for a new visa, getting all the paperwork, while trying to explain to my parents why I just couldn’t come back and to my grandma that I’m not a traitor. You know, all the usual. But I won’t go much into details.
The moment I stood there, in this very place, a few days ago, I realized something. I was not the same person who saw the iconic falls a year ago. I was so completely different that I couldn’t almost recognize myself. But one thing, one part of me, was the same. The one I’ve always hoped not to lose. The wonder, the way I was touched when seeing this, realizing I was there. I’ve come a full circle, losing and gaining, coming back to where I started but so much more mature – and just to start again, to go forward and learn more.
I’ve come a full circle, through the tears and joys I’ve experienced during the past year, I’ve come back to the place which feels like home.
And I know I’ll be standing there the next year, a completely new and transformed person once again, but at the same time, the same old soul that loves this place over anything.