It’s easy to put things off. You don’t feel like buckling down for a work project, so you push it off. Don’t feel like doing laundry, push it off. It’s so common, most of us don’t think about it. It’s a borderline automatic response.
I’ve been driving past one of my favorite photo spots right around sunset for several weeks. Each time I go past, I’ve pushed the impulse to go take a few pictures off. There’s always time, I can do it later, next time I’ll stop.
One afternoon the realization hits, I’m running out of next times. It doesn’t matter that I push things off, time doesn’t pause when I do that. The clock never stops ticking. On an impulse I pull into the crowded parking spot. As the clock ticks down, I scramble up the steep trail, watching the light change.
In this moment I realize that I’m running out of time. As minutes tick down, the sky changes, colors shift, and I’m losing the race. I speed up, chasing the moment.
I reach the top, suck in a breath, and start firing off shots with my iPhone, desperate to capture something that’s racing away from me. Five shots, and the light is gone. I won’t know until I get home just what I captured. I walk back to the car, curiously calm after my race up the trail. It doesn’t matter what I caught. It just matters that today I didn’t push the chase off until tomorrow.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley
Every Christmas holiday season I make an attempt to share my love of this time of year via my blog. This year is no exception. Yesterday marked the final kickoff to Christmas, and was also the first day of Advent. Advent is the traditional build up to the birth of Jesus, which most Christian denominations celebrate as December 25th. I spent 1979-80 living in Southern (read CATHOLIC) Germany with my parents and brother. As a result, my formative Christmas memories blend in a lot of the German Advent/Christmas traditions into the secular Christmas I grew up with.
At Mass yesterday, the Gospel reading talks about Jesus encouraging his disciples to stay awake. I had to laugh because that’s really what I did yesterday. I was up early and out later, which resulted in catching some truly spectacular photos. It’s a good reminder. It’s awfully easy to just ease into comfortable thinking this time of year, literally to fall asleep. You go on autopilot when you shop. You hit the lines for big sales, and don’t really enjoy it. You just move through the season, hoping it is all over soon. But what happens if you wake up? What happens if you go into your day, thinking not about your must do tasks, but thinking about how much fun you might have? What happens when you open yourself up for something good to happen, even if it requires you do a little extra work?
When I went out picture hunting last night, the first half dozen shots were okay. I was pretty sure that the sun was not going to give me anything spectacular. But I decided to hang out a few minutes longer, just in case. I was rewarded with glorious pinks, purples, and a pretty awesome shot.
If I’d just shrugged my shoulders and moved on, no stunning shot. No big smile on my face. No sense of accomplishment. I had to push a little harder, but man it was so worth it.
Every day can be special, you just have to stay awake and give it a chance.