“You said you’d wake me up!”
I startled, then looked at the clock, the red numbers of 6:17 (am of course), glared back at me.
“I know, I know,” I said to my daughter, “but later I read that the best viewing would be at 6:50; I was going to wake you up then.”
“Well,” she said, “I’m going back to bed, wake me up when it’s time.”
In Florida for spring break, my youngest daughter and I were getting up early to view a solar eclipse. We’d read that it would be a beautiful blood red moon and we didn’t want to miss seeing it.
Once awake, I’m up for the day. So while my daughter retreated to the warmth of her covers, I got up, made a cup of tea and settled myself out on the balcony of our condo. I had about thirty minutes to kill.
It was…beautiful. Quiet. Peaceful. The entire beach was empty, the sky black, except for the full moon and it’s reflection dancing on the wavy water. I tried to capture it…
Then, 6:50 came and just as the paper had predicted, you could see the eclipse. I woke my daughter up and together we went back outside to watch the moon slowly slip behind the earth’s shadow.
I’d like to tell you it was breathtaking. But it wasn’t.
It was pretty but I wouldn’t call it the stunning blood red moon the news had predicted it to be. Regardless, my daughter and I persisted in taking photos with our iphones. But it was too dark out and our cameras couldn’t capture the beauty of the night sky. Here’s a lame shot of it:
And then-the sun began to rise. The dawning of the day meant we could no longer see the eclipse. But that’s when we saw something even more spectacular.
Dolphins. An entire pod of dolphins swimming for breakfast along the shoreline.
“Abby, look!” I grabbed the binoculars, “Look how close they are!”
We’ve seen plenty of dolphins but these were so close, just a few feet from the shore.
I handed my daughter the binoculars and that’s when she said, “Let’s go down there, down to the beach right now!”
Seconds later, I was sprinting, in my pajamas, my daughter racing ahead of me. The split second decision, the running in anticipation-I felt like I was ten again. We were both so excited, we just couldn’t get to the beach fast enough. We wanted to see those dolphins up close.
We were so afraid of missing the moment.
Scurrying out the door of our condominium building, we raced past the pool and through the gate and ran, literally ran, to the water’s edge. And there they were. Dolphins, tons of dolphins.
It was quite a sight. My daughter and I sat next to one another, cameras held high trying to get a photo of these beautiful creatures.
Have you ever tried to take a shot of a dolphin as they swim? It’s not easy. You have to be camera ready.
You have to be waiting for the moment and react quickly. I took 3 maybe 4 photos, but I couldn’t get the shot. The dolphins were spread out and I couldn’t capture the beauty of the scene within my camera lens. Here’s one of the better photos:
It wasn’t until I looked up from the camera that I realized a profound truth: the real beauty was in the moment.
Being up early with my daughter, witnessing the dolphins feed in the early morning light, hearing the sounds of the birds and the ocean in the background-this was what made the moment so special. It was not something I could capture in a picture.
In my desire to capture the moment, I was instead missing the moment.
Until that realization, all my attention had been focused on looking through the tiny lens of my camera. I was so intent on snapping a shot of those dolphins rising up out of the water.
But in looking through the 4-inch lens, I was missing the rest of the scene.
I was missing the beautiful stripes of orange, pink and yellow floating in the morning sky. I was missing the sounds of the water splashing as the dolphins swam. I was missing the beauty of experiencing my daughter’s excitement as she watched the dolphins.
I was missing out on the present moment in order to record it for the future. It’s a dumb move I’ve made time and time again.
Smart phones are amazing. Photos are a great way to record our memories. But living in the moment, soaking it up and piling it into the memory bank, this is the best.
I put my camera down. I looked out at the blue water, stared at the sun’s reflection of pink and gold on it. I watched my daughter as she searched for the perfect shell to take home for a souvenir. I looked down the lonely stretch of beach and inhaled the wonder of it. And inside I felt: giddy. Grateful.
Life goes all too fast. In this day and age of technology we are so persistent in wanting to capture all the good moments of life in our photos. But we must be careful not to miss out on life while doing so.
May we all remember that some moments in life are meant to be lived, not recorded.