Monday, July 11, 2011

Sailboat at Sunset

In just seconds, life can quickly change. After almost 33 years of living, it is an occurrence that I still find unsettling. I just can't get used to it.

This morning seemed normal until I checked out my Facebook feed, as I do every morning, and discovered that an old friend was having an abnormal morning. Today, she woke up to a life without her husband who died unexpectedly yesterday. I don't know the details. At this point, I don't know that it matters. One day he was here and then the next, he was gone.

This news has altered my whole day. How I will speak to people today will be different. How I will respond to situations will be different. I will be different. In a matter of moments, our lives can change in the most unexpected ways. Our challenge is to be able to adapt, but even before that, we are challenged to live in each moment as if the next one is not guaranteed.

Buddhists believe in the art of mindfulness, one of the seven factors for enlightenment. It is the practice of being present in the current moment, and not distracted by the past or the future. It is being aware of everything in order to have the presence of mind to fully embrace your own life each moment.

For example, this photograph was taken in a state of mindfulness. I took this photograph at sunset while sitting behind Mount Vernon -- George Washington's estate -- looking out over the Potomac River. Since this sailboat was so far away, most photographers might have ignored it. However, there was something so peaceful about it that I felt it was worth waiting for it to move closer to my camera position. I watched it sail through my camera lens until it was close enough to capture this image.

While in the scheme of things, especially in light of today's news, this seems very minor, it was a photograph I've always treasured and the best image I've taken of a boat at sail so far. The photograph captures a moment that I will always remember and now will not be lost. I hope my friend holds on to her own special moments whether captured on film or just in her heart, so they can bring her comfort during this difficult time.

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