Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rejoice In the Things That Are Present

Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.
--Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Sometimes, the adorableness of life just bowls me over! Then, if it’s within reach, I’ll grab my camera and start clicking, trying to capture the ineffable as it flies past. Like this little bird who perched right on the tip of a weed in my garden. She was just beyond the reach of my camera’s zoom lens and I knew the pictures would be out of focus, but I kept clicking away anyway, just wanting a memory, even a fuzzy one, of that little bird swaying away on her precarious perch, without a worry in the world.

Other times, I’m so caught in the moment that I forget all about the camera. Today would have been my mother’s 95th birthday. She’s been gone eight years now, but I vividly remember her last visit to my house. She sat on the end of the couch, a Limoges teacup in hand, her gorgeous silver hair freshly styled, wearing a gray and white awning striped silk blouse and silver earrings. “Mother!” I exclaimed, “You look like an old French film star!” Maybe the word old offended her, even at 87. She deigned to smile, very slightly. At that moment, it was my heart that had eyes and it was loving her beauty. There’s no need for a photograph – that image is etched on my pericardium for life.

It’s the same with my husband, David. Sometimes he strikes me as so dear that I just want to preserve his every moment in amber. I take photos of him holding the dog on his lap; covered in mud from the garden; raking; cooking – I don’t care. He’s there. He’s adorable. I capture the little moments, with camera, without; it doesn’t matter. Each image is a piece of the complexity that is he and that is never truly knowable, but always worthy of trying, nevertheless.

I sometimes rummage through my photo files, thinking I should tidy up and toss out about three-quarters of them. But then some really insignificant little image will call up the day, the hour, the weather, the mood, in which I snapped it, and I find a piece of myself – I, who also am truly unknowable. I ponder, then, the absolute oddness of being human, incarnate, conscious. There seems to be no remedy for this, except to rejoice in the things that are present, including myself, and to keep on treasuring each moment, any way I can.

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