|Climb, photographed in 2008 at Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand by Shannon Finney|
Have you ever experienced something so overwhelming in the scope of its beauty that it makes you covetous? When I stepped off of the boat on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, this feeling of greed, of an eager desirousness engulfed me. Focus - that thing so invaluable to a photographer - was thrown aside and there was only avarice. To be thrown into such a place of visual splendor was heady and so I let loose and snapped furiously away. After 30 minutes in the hot Thai late morning sun, I sat down and looked, truly looked at this place. It was a temple, after all, built for contemplation and exhaultation, so I put away the camera and simply walked around. Looking up at Wat Arun and colorful coat of porcelain fragments I noticed the blue of the sky. From the ground, it looked as if the very top of the monument was scraping against the heavens. And so I began the climb upwards. The central stairway seemed to be the way to go, however its stairs were steep stone rectangles, so that you didn't actually walk up the stairs, rather you did a weird sort of vertical crawl up and up and up. A family of three - a mother and father in their 60s and a daughter who looked college-aged - were heaving themselves up carefully. I gestured for them to pass me and continue upwards. Watching them, I was struck by how the precariousness of the physical climb to the top of this place mirrors anyone's trip to the unknown, to a place beyond what you might be able to see.