Saturday, May 16, 2009

first light

It was "break of day in the neighborhood" when I took McKinlee out earlier for a little first-thing-in-the-morning relief. The neighbor across the street passed by as he completed another circuit around the block on his daily run; the child of another neighbor--who doubles as our newspaper deliverer--was inching along the road depositing papers in boxes; within earshot (a relative term) someone was revving up a motorized contraption for yardwork; birds offered a serenade of welcome to the day and the pinkish-orange glow of early light splashed across portions of the streetscape. There's something about taking in the rhythms of very local life at this time of day that is pleasing to the soul.

In search of an image to reflect this morning mood I came upon this shot of a camel, unaware that he appears to be basking in his very own spotlight. Now at Melrose we actually do have a camel in the neighborhood, but here, alas, the wildlife is more mundane. We lack the drama of these mountains as well. Nonetheless, this image spoke to me.

I appreciate the suggestion of solitude and what strikes me as a moment of personal revelry as the day begins. The photographer within me likes the composition, the simplicity of minimal color and the complexity of shadow layers. What I really love, however, is that it's all about the camel. For a moment in time and captured forever, this creature is the star. The light that explodes so tightly around his shape is almost surreal. Beam him up. Take him away.

But from where he stands he is unaware of the image he casts. Within his view is a panorama of his surroundings. This moment, this terrain, this journey is familiar and unremarkable. The ground beneath his feet is the same ground over which he trods day in, day out. One step is like any other, the burden on his back indistinguishable from those he has carried before and will carry again. This moment, to him, is so lacking in distinction that it is forgotten before it even arrives. It is invisible.

How odd that it should inspire in my imagination an opposite response. In this case the camera has offered me a glimpse into another reality. But every day there is something ordinary that signals my attention and gives me pause to consider another life, another angle, another perspective, a catch against my choices and preferences (I am avoiding the word "values").

Yesterday as I was heading into the funeral home to conduct a service I caught out of the corner of my eye a cluster of people conversing with one another. A young lady among them stood out: a pink top, a coordinating, patterned skirt, and leggings. Leggings. To a funeral? Internally I rolled my eyes, but the moment had channeled its way into my consciousness and I simultaneously looked down my nose at the wardrobe and chastised myself for the judgment.

Singular moments like these are essential to life, or at least to mine. They keep me honest, work to keep my mind open and to expand my heart to take in the burdens another person might carry. Like the world of the camel the terrain over which they travel is generally unremarkable and most moments invisible. Yet because some aspect of that world is different from mine it beckons to me to pay attention, to see it, to allow it to make an impression for whatever purpose it might serve to connect me to the world and the lives I encounter in it. Such moments shed light, literally and figuratively, and join the collective gallery of images and impressions that shape me. Like the stars in the sky they become part of the landscape that is familiar to me. And who knows, perhaps my ordinary, invisible moments open a world for someone else. Like the camel did for me.
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3 comments:

Jules said...

I read here, not just because you are my true friend, but also because you have a gift...your words strike me often in the same way your insightful Wed. messages use to. I'd miss those more, but I get them here. Thank you, dear Anne

Jayne said...

Beautifully composed... just beautiful. And oh, there are so many of these moments, aren't there? :c)

drw@bainbridge.net said...

Fabulous post, start to finish! I love the thought that my ordinary moments could open a world for someone else! Loved the image, too. But best of all is the word picture you created in the first paragraph: stellar! Took me back to my childhood...

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