While I've really missed being able to write, I must admit there have been some benefits--one of which has been I've been forced to live more in (and, at times, even simply enjoy being in) the present.
Recently, in the July issue of Washingtonian, I read a comment by Getty's Chip Somodevilla regarding a subtle change in what is happening on the other side of his camera lens. Under a photo of a group of people at a McCain rally in Tennessee with cameras and cell phones in hand was the caption "Curse of the camera phone," which notes that photos from campaign rallies in the 1960s and 1970s "capture supporters with faces upturned and eyes filled with adoration." Somodevilla notes, "It made for beautiful pictures." But today, things have changed. "Nowadays, everyone brings a camera," he says. "They have to take a picture to prove they were there, to send it to a friend, to have as a keepsake.... They're working to record history, just like I am. I miss the pictures of people who are just enjoying the moment."
As a writer (and an amateur photographer), I spend a lot of time recording moments in my head or looking for potential photos. Most of the time, I get a chance to write that into a post or capture a moment with a photo. Over the last few weeks, however, much of what's going on in my life hasn't made it into written words or photographs. At first, that was frustrating--there were so many interesting observations I'd loved to have blogged or beautiful moments that would have been wonderful on (digital) film. But as the days tumbled one after the other, I gradually began to savor those moments without a way to record them other than a turning in delight to God.
Like last night. We went to a minor league baseball game with a fireworks display afterwards with two families that have become wonderful friends. We left in a rush from the house and I forgot to bring my camera. For a moment I regreted it--it turned out to be a record attendance game and one with some mind-blowing plays that would have made incredible shots (really, that's the reason I love minor league ball). But there's something to what Somodevilla articulates. I found myself enjoying the chance to simply focus on the game and explain the plays to my six-year-old son. And when those fireworks started--wow. It was one of those moments of true delight that we soak in simply to soak in. It was a magical night.
Maybe I could have taken a photo or written words that captured that magic. But, at least for now, it's okay that I didn't. I know that I will go back to writing more and taking photos again. I can't help it. It's what I love to do. Yet I'm learning to appreciate those unexpected seasons that we walk into that change our routine. It not only lifts us out of our habits and normal ways of doing and being but it also allows us to hear and encounter God in new ways--for it is in the present that he meets us.
Like Thoreau observes, we wear paths into the world without even knowing it. So, even if my paths are shifted by the onslaught of life's responsibilities, in the end I welcome it. For, like Thoreau, "I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains." And, for now, that moonlight is shining on the ordinary moments I am unable to record for history but free to simply enjoy.
(Image: my daughter with a sparkler the day before July 4)