In the Moment

by Lisa Rosen on April 27, 2010

I got up this morning with no idea what to write for today’s post.  I’m casting about for an idea for my next novel, so my brain is all tied up in knots.  I have limited bandwidth for deep-thinking activities; trying to pursue two completely different trains of creative thought was just blocking all thought entirely.

So I thought I’d go for a nice long walk in the woods, to clear out the mental cobwebs and get some focus.  I headed over to the nature preserve near our house.  There was a sign at the entrance–watch out for copperheads.  So my peaceful, easy ramble morphed into an exercise in laser-like focus on the ground immediately surrounding my feet.  I walked along in high-alert mode for half an hour or so before I started to relax a bit, having had a grand total of zero good ideas–not for the blog, or the new novel (or anything else, for that matter).  Mostly I just wondered about copperhead nesting habits and camouflage tricks.

Suddenly, after about 45 minutes, I heard a loud crashing in the undergrowth, and caught a flicker of movement off to my left.  I stopped, wondering how snakes could make that much noise, and peered into the dim green shade of the woods.  It took me a minute to realize that I was seeing a deer, paused, perfectly still.  Two more came bounding across the trail from the right, and the three of them just stood, stock-still, watching me watching them.  I’ve never been that close to deer before, out in the wilds of suburbia.

Two more walkers caught up and passed me, and still the deer and I stood there, checking each other out, not moving a muscle.  I had my Blackberry, and thought about whipping it out to try to take a picture, but then I had a small epiphany:  the moment itself was much more interesting–and meaningful–than any photograph would ever be.  Some things can’t really be captured, and just need to be experienced.  It was one of those moments.

I remembered, out of the blue, a revelatory moment  Lee and I witnessed years ago, not long after we were married.  We went on a whale-watching trip in Hawaii–one of those deals where you go out on a boat for the day, and they try to find whales so the customers can catch a glimpse of a broad, dark back rolling through the sea, but they can’t promise, and there are all kinds of disclaimers and policies about the fact that sometimes the whales just don’t show up.  We thought, what the heck.  If we see whales, great, and if we don’t, at least we’ll have had a nice day on a boat.

The whales were amazing.  Stunning.  Breathtaking.  They put on a show right in front of us–rolling, frolicking, blowing up fountains of spray, rocketing out of the water, and smashing their huge bodies back down again.  The most memorable, beautiful moment was when two breached, simultaneously, passing each other in mid-air, and belly-flopped back into the ocean.  We just watched, slack-jawed.

There was a family on the boat–mom, dad, and two older kids.  The kids were bored and mildly seasick, so they had retreated to the tiny cabin below-deck (note:  if you are ever seasick, going below-deck is the single worst thing you can do; I never understood why the parents didn’t just tell them to stay up top and watch the horizon).  Dad was all excited about recording the whole thing on his fancy new video camera (this was the very early 90s).  Mom kept telling him to look, and he kept saying it was okay, he’d watch the video later.  He was so focused on that camera.

When he rewound it to see that double breach?  Nothing.  It hadn’t recorded.  He had missed it.

It’s been almost twenty years, but I remember those two whales vividly.  Hopefully twenty years from now, I’ll remember the deer I saw this morning, and the memory will give me as much peace as the moment did today.  I know that a photo certainly couldn’t have captured it.

The rest of my walk was lovely–I was clear-headed and light-footed, and got home all blissed-out and calm.*

*Too calm, perhaps–I later opened the garage door, so I could take out the garbage, and didn’t notice that the big metal door hadn’t gone all the way up.  I walked smack into it, beaming myself in the head.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonja Foust April 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Love this. Every now and then I have to remind myself to stop taking pictures and just experience things. 🙂

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Lisa Rosen April 28, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Hi Sonja–
Glad you liked the post. Being present . . . harder than it sounds, sometimes.
Thanks for reading!

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Bobbi Janay April 30, 2010 at 12:51 am

Thanks for the reminder.

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