Secrets behind the lens
Photo shot by GAQMedia.
Check out his Instagram @gustavoaquiros
“Tav, come on you’re going to regret it if you don’t get this picture.”
Standing there towering over 3,000 ft above the valley below I didn’t think so, but Gustavo had his own opinion.
I shook my head at him. “I can’t do it. I’m afraid of heights.”
“What’s the worse that will happen?” he implored.
“Well, that could happen, but since you are so worried about it I doubt you will actually let yourself topple over the edge.”
“Gustavo” I was exasperated. Why didn’t he understand my dilemma or the direness of the situation? I could see the headline rising before my tired eyes as we argued, ‘Girl falls to her death at Glacier Point attempting to take a cool photograph’ We see stories in the news all the time of those irresponsible and clueless tourists who happen to step backwards off of a cliff just because they were trying to take a selfie. I did not want to fall into that category.
So I shook my head, planted my feet firmly beneath me, crossed my arms and told him to forget about it. There were plenty of other ways to enjoy the sunrise overlooking all of Yosemite Valley.
Gustavo shrugged and walked off to get pictures of Half Dome as the sun began to peek out from behind its gallant rock formation. It was just after 5:30 in the morning, about 45 degrees with a light mist hanging in the air. I could feel the damp clinging to me like waking up to heavy dew drops on fat blades of grass. We had spent the night at Bridalveil Falls campground about 10 minutes down the road. My toes had been numb most of the night despite being covered with two pairs of ski socks packed from home.
We woke up in the pitch black, hurriedly gathering our supplies in order to make it to Glacier Point before first light and before all of the people began to filter in. I hadn’t brushed my teeth in almost 24 hours, the last shower I had was two days previous, and I still had sand in my boots from the Pacific Northwest. Despite all of these things I did not care, I never had the thought that I was uncomfortable or that my life on the road could be better if I possessed more money, instead I was inspired. I loved waking up not knowing where that day would take me, I became used to the rolled peanut butter tacos, and quick swigs of water to unstick the roof of our mouths. We were seeing America and no lack of sleep or personal hygiene was going to dampen my mood.
I watched as people began arriving around me to witness the light rise above the horizon. With Gustavo off doing his own thing, I was left to sit and ponder why I wasn’t willing to take that damn picture. Why wasn’t it worth it for me? And I realized that I didn’t have a good enough reason. That picture should be worth everything to me, regardless of the risk that surrounded it. Hadn’t I promised myself I would take more risks, do what I love, be who I want to be regardless of what others think or tell me?
My whole life I had followed a set path, I had a plan, a vision. When I graduated that plan felt foreign. I didn’t want to work right away, I wanted to see and do things. I wanted to understand what true inspiration felt like, true fear, true triumph, and a two-month road trip seemed the best way to begin understanding these things. Above all, I wanted to get to know myself, who I was as a person and who I was prepared to be to get the things that I wanted out of life.
I looked at the edge of that cliff and my heart fluttered. I was terrified, but so what? I was terrified of taking this road trip until I was suddenly on it. I was terrified about starting college until I was actually sitting in my first class. Things always seem way scarier before you are doing them because we have all of these big expectations or ideas about how something will go when in reality we can’t predict a thing. I stared ahead for what felt like forever, but then I had my answer. I was going to sit over the edge of Glacier Point on a Monday morning in September during sunrise. I stood up, dusted my pants off and tip-toed along the rocks over to where Gustavo had his camera all set up.
“I’m going to do it.” I tried to sound courageous and resolute, like nothing he had said made me change my mind. He smirked at me.
“Okay, I knew you’d change your mind, so I’m all set up. Whenever you’re ready just head out there.”
I was indignant. “You had no idea”
“Tava, I know you, yes I did.”
It was childish, but I stuck my tongue out at him as I walked away towards the cliff face. He smiled back.
I climbed up and stood atop the slab of granite. I felt dizzy, the feeling that I was about to fall engulfed me. My vision narrowed, my palms started to sweat, and my limbs felt like jello. I walked maybe three more steps before I sank to my knees and started the slow, inevitable crawl to the edge. I peered over at the sheer drop below me and my mind grew quiet. I thought of nothing as I swung my legs over the edge, and kept one hand firmly behind me for balance. I looked ahead and waited. A feeling of awe enveloped me. The wind whipped my hair away from my face and I felt like I could finally see. I knew the picture had already been taken, but I stayed there on the edge still and quiet reveling in the joy I felt at being on top of the world!