The Eyes of St. Peter on the Metro de Madrid

The Tears of St. Peter (El Greco 1587-1596)

I’ve lost count now, of the amount of times I’ve been captivated by a moment and the undying regret at not capturing and preserving it on camera.

And so it happened again – this time the location was the Metro de Madrid – and yet again I felt the full brunt of the anguish at not having the ‘right’ (whatever, that means) camera to record this unusual moment that I would never experience again.

I had ordered the ‘right’ point-and-shoot camera just a few weeks earlier, with the intention of getting comfortable with candid street photography and ending this cycle of missed opportunities. But for reasons out of my control – I was not destined to have the camera in my hand when I needed it most. On hindsight, I should have just pulled out my phone, but then again perhaps it would have been too obvious and not ‘perfect enough’ Hesitation, excuses and the impossible pursuit of perfection – the greatest killers of any moment.

Anyhow, I was already on board the Metro when he got on. He looked like a labourer, just another forgettable, ordinary man to the rest of the world. But then he looked up. He glanced at the destination display on the Metro. And each time he did, each time his eyes looked upwards, I could not stop myself looking from looking at them.

The upward glance of this man transformed his whole face. I could feel the tiredness in those eyes. A man weary from his day’s labours. Eyes that whispered of unspoken sorrows. With the glint of longing, loneliness and the inexplicable.

I stared mesmerised, but it all happened so quickly. Before I knew it, I had reached my destination and I realised the moment was gone forever, never to return.

By failing to record this moment, I felt I had yet again missed something special…

The next day I found myself in Toledo at the El Greco Museum. I wandered, looking at the paintings of the Apostles – feeling myself drawn to none of them. Until, I reached one of the last ones, and I had to stop dead in my tracks. Lo and behold, I was confronted by the same mesmerising face and eyes from the Metro. This time he stood in front of my in the form of an old man with a white beard, but by God, they were same heavy, pensive eyes, the same glint of spiritual sadness, and the same longing gaze towards the heavens.

It was the beautiful transcendental painting of a solemn looking St. Peter in penitence by El Greco. I simply could not believe that I had seen the real-life manifestation of this vulnerable face, just the day before. It was too convenient, and I felt that these two experiences were connected in some mysterious, inexplicable way, and I had been destined to experience them and be inspired by them.

The Tears of St. Peter (El Greco 1587-1596 )

Of course, I was now left with an even greater regret at not photographing the man.

About two weeks ago, I finally got my hands on the camera. A few days ago, all the required accessories arrived. I have just finished attaching them and testing the camera.

Ricoh GR II

I vow to never walk the streets without my camera in my hand.