Pensive Man | Mark Lindsay

A man sold a bunch of parsley to a robust woman. The woman laughed and talked as she gave him the two dollars that the hand-painted sign said she owed. She continued her conversation with him while she walked away, getting getting louder and louder in order for him to hear her. Soon she was out of shouting distance and disappeared. Then it was quiet. A brief lull filled the air. The vegetable stand was deserted for a moment but the peace wouldn’t last. The next rush of hungry buyers were but a moment away.

I watched the transaction through my lens, lifting it up from some nice eggplant that I’d planned to photograph. The blurry silhouette of the man intrigued me. He seemed so quiet after the woman left. His shoulders hunched, he took a shallow breath. Then he was still. It was a nothing moment but felt so much like something. I photographed the instant so that I could remember it—and think about it later.

In between moments are everywhere when you pay attention to them—a rest between breaths, or a space between sentences. A cardiologist once told me that the rest between heart beats is an important factor in cardiac health. Those in betweens are very strange once you start paying attention to them. Everyone has their own style with them. My grandmother used to look off into the distance during brief pauses, seemingly lost to everything. My father used to pause so long between sentences we’d forget what he was talking about. And a guy used to work with would dominate conversations by not pausing at all.

Maybe the secrets to the universe lie in those in betweens and that’s why we get strange when we encounter them. They’re the spaces that actually define and give dimension to everything else.

After I clicked the shutter another woman walked up to the pensive man. “Are those peppers really hot?” she asked. “Yes, but you get used to them,” he answered. The spell was broken and then the universe shrank down to the size of a red pepper, waiting for another in between moment to expand again.