So there I was.
5:30 AM standing on Coast Guard Beach.
Eastham, Cape Cod.
Here comes the sun, as the song says.
I’m drawn to sunrises, even if at times it’s a long drive to see one. I left my home a few minutes before 4:00 on this Sunday morning just to see the sun appear out of the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Certainly, sunrises can be a metaphor for new beginnings and new light. I just happen to think they are simply really cool to witness.
This one didn’t disappoint. The sky’s subtle transition from dark to light revealed a spectacular array of colors and textures in the sky and along the shore. In the shallow water in front of me several seal pups swam parallel to the shore, unimpressed with the sights and sounds around them, the crashing of the ocean waves illuminated by the ever-changing angle of the sun.
With me, as always, was my camera, my trusted companion in capturing the fire and majesty of the births of many new days. But today the camera wasn’t the priority.
I’ve watched the sunrise on this and other beaches many times over the years. Each one it’s own unrepeatable magnificent creation. And with each one came my intention to perfectly capture it, camera in hand. At some point in my photographic journey, though, I realized that I had unintentionally become more concerned with preserving the moment than actually experiencing it. My egoic desire to own the moment prevented me from actually fully enjoying the moment.
Egoic, because I had made this about about me and my need to perfectly capture what was in front of me. Egoic, knowing I’d be disappointed if the images I captured didn’t meet my exacting standard.
It made me wonder about other moments in my life where I chose, consciously or unconsciously, to surrender the present moment in favor of attempting to relive it at a later time. How much of the present moment is lost when we need to immediately share that moment on Facebook and Instagram? What if instead of photographing our food we chose to first actually enjoy it instead?
The best time to experience the present moment is now.
I still greatly enjoy the photographic side of a sunrise, ever working at refining my skills with the goal of faithfully capturing the beauty of what’s in front of me. But the priority is to now be more fully present to witness the spectacle and wonder of what’s unfolding in front of me.
On the beach.
And in life.