8” x 8” • Oil on Canvas
Inspired by the experiences of Thomas Hammond
Moments in Time
by Shawn Dickens
“Yeah, and you are just like, well, I’m alive right now. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be alive … but right now…”
– Thomas Hammond
Fleeting and ever in motion, marching on like a battle-weary soldier’s boots pounding into the pavement. Clock hands count out seconds passing by in rhythmic ticks often too faint for us to hear and yet, at other times hammering into our ears like the bass drum of a hometown parade marching band.
Cruising around war torn Syria in a car packed with Syrian rebels with AK 47’s and fellow journalists with cameras, both willing to shoot when the moment presented itself. Six men crammed next to each other riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave, a wave of both fear and adrenaline. Looking for the story. Searching for meaning. Time passes unnoticed.
Being caught by a Turkish border guard while sneaking back out of Syria through a hole in the border fence into turkey. He is just a young man in uniform who looks as though he wanted to be anywhere else, doing anything other than watching this fence. The guard says he will let you go in a little while because his supervisor is down the road and might be watching. For now, you are detained.
Time passes in faint ticks.
Finding yourself staring down the barrel of a loaded rifle as a round is chambered because your guide took back his watch from the border guard. Your guide tried to bribe him with it so the group could be on their way and when things didn’t go as planned he snatched it back. The rhythmic thumping you hear is your own heart pounding in your chest making its way to your ears. Time stands still.
Crawling back through the hole in the fence back into Syria because the young border guard is now all business and finding yourself in a beautiful orchard. Mango and pomegranate trees interspersed with palm trees surrounding you like a tranquil buffer between the war in front of you and the conflict behind you at the border. The fruit ripening in the sun looks inviting, so after choosing one, you pull it from the branch just over your head. Time passes in the faint chirping of birds in the distance.
Biting into the flavorful seeds from a hand picked pomegranate as the sun warms your back, you find yourself gazing across the span of the orchard. The soft breeze causing the leaves to dance before it reaches you, cooling the sweat gathering across your shirt. Leaves crunching under foot as you make your way along, unsure of the next part of your journey. Uncertainty that is offset by the certainty that this fruit is the best thing you have ever eaten. In this moment, here in this orchard you have never been more alive. As you take another bite you smile at nothing in particular. Time passes in sunbeams dancing through the wind swept branches.