“I think that dying is the easy part of life; for in waking each day and living in every moment, therein lies the challenge.” Jeremy Aldana
I am a closet wanna-be photographer. I absolutely love capturing moments of life on film. So yeah, this means I am “that mom” at my girls special events and birthday parties, with my face constantly behind a camera. I’m working on being more present in the moment but I come back to this reasoning – I will probably never say, “I wish I didn’t have those pictures.” But I have had the thought, “I wish I had taken more pictures of the girls at that age.” Or, “Why didn’t we take pictures when we did such and such?” I have spent hours on iPhoto or Aperture, editing and getting hundreds of pictures ready for print so I can turn around and spend many more hours scrapbooking – another passion of mine. Every now and then, my girls and I will spend entire afternoons looking through my 20+ scrapbooks. Our family albums and the girls baby albums are my most prized possessions. I think it is important to see and remember moments we have long forgotten and relive them through our photos.
Recently, I was driving home from an evening event at church, a little overwhelmed and bone tired. Our church is in the middle of a corn field in a low-lying valley and in the fall, the fog rolls in heavy and thick at night. Fall in the mid-west is breathtaking to me. Autumn is slowly creeping her way into the landscape. She can be felt in the crisp night air and smelled in the chimney smoke and bonfires. She makes her presence known in the trees, as the leaves begin to change from green to vibrant yellow and orange – even pink and purple. As I headed down a two-lane highway, a bright light pierced through the fog and caught my attention. It was a perfect harvest moon – radiant and gleaming with wisps of clouds floating in the center, lighting up the corn fields like a giant nightlight. The sky looked like a movie backdrop. I couldn’t stop craning my neck, trying to get a better look. I noticed a great “photo-op” spot with the fall trees in the background and the moon in full view. I pulled over, grabbed my phone, and took pictures…in the pitch black darkness. I really wanted to “catch” that moment. Of course, it was impossible. The pictures didn’t show the full beauty of what I was witnessing. It looked so small on my phone. I just couldn’t capture the moon.
I laugh now because I don’t know why I was expecting to get a great picture in the dark with my phone. I don’t have nice camera equipment. I don’t even have a very good camera. My husband recently told me that the camera on my new iPhone is better than the expensive camera he got me a few years ago. This blows my mind because the camera in my phone is… IN my PHONE!! I would love to get a nice camera someday and explore my love for photography. But sometimes, even great pictures can’t provide the complete and full beauty that God’s creation gives me when I am there, in person. I could take a million pictures of my girls (I’m pretty sure I actually have) but if you never met them and only saw pictures, you wouldn’t really be seeing them – it would just be a tiny piece. A glimpse. Until you are with them and hear their infectious laughter, see them running and playing, feel their little hands grab yours – a snapshot is just not a complete picture of who they are. Even this morning, I was disappointed after taking some pictures of fall trees in my neighborhood. The colors I saw and the colors my pictures showed were not the same. Real life looked much better. Pictures can help tell a story but they can’t tell us everything. Just as words don’t always do our feelings justice. Some things can only be experienced to truly get “it.”
I love this picture of fall. It’s one of the best ones I’ve seen that almost captures the colors the way they really look. But I bet the photographer who took this photo would probably tell you the colors were even more vibrant and the sounds and smells made the moment more beautiful than even this amazing picture reveals.
After I tried and failed to capture the moon, I went home and put my phone in my pocket. I stood alone in the driveway for a long time, unable to pull my gaze from the moon’s glow. That night was a gentle reminder for me to enjoy moments without always trying to record them for posterity or file them away in my photo library. I want to be there. I want to live in the moment, not just remember it from behind a camera (or phone, or computer, or book). Sometimes, there are moments that cannot be captured. Sometimes, a photo doesn’t do the moment justice – no matter how much you crop, “Instagram” or “Photoshop.” Sometimes, it is good to live in the moment and just breathe.