In Spite of Oneself

Yesterday began with a sudden realization that there was a full moon still hanging in the sky … a Harvest Moon, no less.

I was upstairs at the time, gathering myself and trying to decide what to do with my morning now that all the kitties were fed. It was just a few minutes before six and so I checked into the weather app on the phone and it told me that the sky was mostly clear, which put the trails at Circle B firmly on my list of possibilities.

But it also indicated that in about four minutes, the Harvest Moon was about to reach its peak. So, grabbing my camera, I ran off outside and managed to snap a few images of it while it was still large and bright.

Then I bundled the camera into the car, said goodbye to my feline friends and set off for Circle B. It was still dark and no sign of the twilight yet but I was hoping I could make it to the trails and capture it there. Actually the skies began to take on a color when I was only halfway there and so I realized that I had to pull in somewhere and try to catch it. I wasn’t going to catch the colors if I waited until Circle B.

I found a small lake by the side of the road, pulled into a car park and managed to get some neat shots as some beautiful colors announced themselves beyond the far side of the lake.

As the sun finally made itself known, I hopped back into the car and made for the trails.

It was the first twenty minutes or so on the trails that my own struggles caught up with me. Do you ever find yourself suddenly being confronted with a series of your own mistakes that just compound on each other and make your life miserable?

Well, that was me yesterday. As I set out on the trail, my big lens (which was to be my main companion for the morning) fogged up like crazy as I had kept it in the cold car and not let it acclimatize properly. That’s when I realized I had left my lens cloth back on the seat of my car and so I resorted to using the inside of my shirt to try to wipe it clean.

No sooner had I wiped it each time that it fogged up again so for 20 to 30 minutes, I was photographically disabled. Couldn’t shoot anything worth talking about. I was getting more and more pissed at myself with each passing minute and each opportunity to shoot something that I had to ignore.

I was down by the lake when it finally stopped fogging and by then I realized that I was wearing the wrong shoes. These were definitely not trail-shoes and I was slipping and generally unsteady to the point that my lower back was developing a progressive ache from bad posture.

I was half way down the lake when I realized that I also had forgotten my spare battery at home and this one was now showing a charge of less than 20%. This made me rush several moments and I accelerated my walk so that I would be back at the car before it ran out.

In my mind, any moment where I had zero battery left was the most likely moment when I might encounter that elusive bobcat that I have been looking for, for years.

Unknown to me, in my rush, I got something dreadfully wrong in the focus department when a wonderful pair of Osprey began to play in the skies nearby. I rattled off about fifteen shots only later to find out that the sky was perfectly in focus but not the birds.

At about 4% I managed to get some shots of a lovely Osprey eating his breakfast, at 3% there was a brood of baby alligators hidden away beyond some bushes that I managed to get a couple of pics worth taking, and finally at 2% I found a lovely Little Blue Heron who had just caught an eel and was in mid-struggle with his prey on how best to eat him.

I have included a number of images from start to finish of my morning at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy them. Here is an initial one where I combined one of my very last images, with one of my first. I was thinking of captioning it along the lines of the Harvest Moon not being so lucky for everyone, but I will leave that up to you.

In any event, by the time I made it home yesterday, I was pretty miserable. When I reviewed my Osprey play pics on the PC, I was even more so.

When events around me conspire to ruin a shoot, I can take it, albeit begrudgingly so. But when I repeatedly shoot myself in the foot, I have no such sense of forgiveness.

That’s when the notion for this blog thought hit me. In spite of myself yesterday, I actually managed to get some decent shots.

Honestly, the level of fuck-up that was involved in everything I did, was almost comical and certainly threw me into the lower echelons of amateur photography.

Yet somehow Mother Nature stepped in and gave me a few face-saving moments that made me look like I knew what I was doing.

Conversely, there are moments when we do everything right and we still fall on our faces. You find yourself wearing your perfect trail shoes, cleaning cloth resting beside your spare battery in your pocket, and not a hint of fog on your lens. Yet you catch nothing; might as well have stayed home.

This is where we have to look at the bigger picture and realize that life isn’t really about us. We don’t really make things happen. And certainly we don’t control things to any reasonable level.

No, in most cases we just live through moments that play out in front of us. We get to witness and occasionally react. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. But most of the time we are just along for the ride.

Life is much bigger than the world we create in our heads and understanding that is part of the maturing process. Until we get to that point, life is mainly just a struggle. We pull and push and kick and scream but rarely seem to make a dent in what is happening around us.

Our experience is generally one of strife, interspersed with some happy moments. Making the most of those moments is, at the end of the day, what forms the basis of a happy life.

The big destiny of life is dismal. Its big conclusion is that we all die. So therefore it must be the journey itself that we find our value in. Stringing enough happy memories together to form the basis of a sense of happiness for ourselves and those around us; that is where the real value of having lived, lies.

As Oscar Wilde so beautifully put it: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Getting bogged down with our struggles and worrying over things we cannot affect are ridiculous paths to choose through life. Understanding that life will go its own way in spite of us, is an important principle to accept. And in so doing, we can shift our gaze away from the struggle and up to the stars.

… just a thought!