Love is...

Inspired by a personal post I wrote about a year ago called 'LIVE MORE JUDGE LESS' and the fact that today is widely known as 'Love Day'... I felt the need to write down what my take on love is... 

This past November I was incredibly blessed to be able to return to a beautiful spot in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa together with my little sister, where we went on a family holiday about 20 yrs ago. We probably went on our holidays to the Drakensberg Mountains numerous times growing up, but this particular holiday I'm referring to, is burnt into my memory because of a photo I took really early one morning (which still hangs in my home). It was early enough for my dad to catch the 'frist rise' (he was a very passionate fly fisherman and never needed sleep when he knew that the trout were about rise!!!).

In this photo taken in 1998, my father and sister is looking at what is called the 'amphitheatre' in what I can only describe as a mesmerising stare... When you view this part of the mountains from a distance, it actually looks like an amphitheatre and you can appreciate it's true beauty. They did not know that I was making this image. You can see my father's camera dangling from his right hand and looking back at it now... this moment is just perfect...

Before the digital era, we had a film roll of about 24/27 or 36 images (from what I can remember). It was expensive to develop so you had to pick the moments you wanted to photograph and remember. Quite often, my father would take the time to explain to us WHY a scene was so beautiful BEFORE he photographed it. This was one of those moments and an image I'm proud of and thankful for. 

Dad&Bianca-1998.jpg

Years later... as a young soldier, I took part in a 8-day 'trek' across the top of it. It was a really difficult hike lead by a LE Officer called George A-T (or 'George of the mountain' as we referred to him). A few years after that, the image of my dad and sister hung in my room at the Military Academy of Sandhurst during my officer training, reminding me of both a wonderful holiday with my family and of a time as a soldier when I realised that anything truly was possible... even when climbing up chain ladders and your bergen being dragged up using a rope.

Now... this image reminds me of how wonderful it is that photo's can freeze time and that the people we love... are still alive in them and when standing on that spot looking at te mountains (the same as we did all those years ago) my mind was filled with memories and my heart... with love. 

Amphiteater-1.jpg

So... almost 20 years later... I managed to locate the same spot I made the first image from all those years ago and I could remember the moment... like it was yesterday. I actually sat there for a few hours just being quiet and feeling appreciative for moments like these that are so special to remember. 

Unfortunately... we cannot turn back time and we cannot freeze the perfect and happy moments or undo the not so perfect one's... but we can take the time to appreciate the beauty of now and the small gestures made by those who care... 

So... What is love to me? 

Above all... love is giving your time to those that matter to you... Love is the perfect moment in this image of my father together with my little sister. Love is my mother making pumpkin fritters every Christmas (if you knew what they tasted like you'd understand!) and staying up all night to finish the school projects which I didn't quite finish myself... Love is the sound of the birds singing in the morning to express their happiness for the sun making it's appearance. Love is my neighbours bringing my wheely bin in from the street and the flowers they bring me after I have been away for a long time. Love is the boxes filled with goodies which Jacqs sent us when we were on Ops. Love is friends and family shaving their heads together with their loved one... when they are going through chemo therapy. Love is a smile from a stranger and the shop door being held open for you. Love is my sister taking the time in between her busy daily schedule to update me on her life from far away. Love is a friend sending me a box of skincare products because she knew that I needed them and at the time, couldn't afford them myself. Love is the messages of encouragement from family and friends telling me that everything will be ok. Love is an old friend whom I haven't seen for many years, taking the time to have a drink with me in a freezing city. Love is the Veterans from another Army accepting me as one of their own. Love is my boyfriend, making himself a fresh pot of coffee every morning for 2 years and leaving me most of it... only for me to later find out that he was never making it for himself and that he'd been making it for me... all along...

The list goes on...  In the words of 'WET WET WET'... Love really IS all around :) 

So... on this day of celebrating love... what are you thankful for? 

Thank you to anyone who does something for nothing, purely out of kindness and love for others... 

Spread the love. 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Charlie Wessels Fotografie