Being mindful of the things that matter in life
I think it's neat to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving near where it actually occurred, in one of the areas where the country first began, and with ancestors stretching back to that time and place. It makes the various celebrations feel very authentic and personally connected. But in stripping away the pomp and circumstance, the food and family traditions, I've come to enjoy the premise of pausing to appreciate your life, to be mindful in a way life's daily grind sometimes seems to preclude.
For me, the last decade of Thanksgiving has involved some sort of road trip in New England. It turns the meal into a family adventure. Each year we try to find a way to keep it fresh. This year will include Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant in a quiet, nearby village. It will also involve seeing a play, wandering amidst a holiday lights display, shopping at small businesses, and seeing where else our path leads.
The food is the least of my interests; my focus is around the immersive time with family, being able to laugh, share stories, play games, and engage in a way we couldn't do in a single meal or day.
Despite life's inevitable challenges and some years being particularly tough, or maybe being mindful because of those things, I give thanks for the chance to really connect with the people who mean the most to me.
Coming to my senses.
Oftentimes, when I'm photographing a sunrise I lose myself in that moment. But it's focused around a set of factors that are all visual: figuring out my angle, the perspective, waiting for the clouds to shift.
There are times I'm aware of the breeze - especially in winter; or can feel the sand between my toes; or wince against the bite of wind-driven snow on my cheeks. But it mostly is a sight-based effort.
When I stood alone on a dock on Nantucket, taking in the morning sun, it was enjoyably different. The dock extended far out into the harbor. The morning breeze felt refreshing. Yet, it was the lapping of the waves against the dock and the hulls of all of the boats that was most striking. After I finished capturing the scene, I stood and just absorbed the sights, the feel, and also the sound.
It was a reminder that while it's great to get lost in an activity, it's also still worth pausing to allow an alternate experience to occur. That morning, so still except for the perpetual movement of nature, was one of the better little moments of my year.
Appreciating some morning commutes
On the days when I can work remotely and am by the shore, I'm willing to drag myself out of bed before dawn. I'll scout for a scenic spot and watch the sky slowly explode with color.
Once the sun is above the horizon, it quickly transitions from colorful to bright. But those minutes when the sun hasn't yet broken through or hangs low on the horizon can be magical. The world is generally still quiet, but nature's beauty is on full display for those willing to witness it.
Recently, I was at the Chatham Fish Pier, which may be more lively at dawn than any other point of the day. Unlike the empty beaches, working harbors such as this can be bustling with activity. Fishermen are working hard to prep for a day of hard work on the sea, workers on the docks are helping to supply them, and seals hover alongside boats for any stray bait that might get tossed their way.
As I drive back to get a local coffee and start my day, I sometimes wonder: while these are demanding jobs, are they able to briefly pause as they leave the harbor to enjoy a sunrise on the ocean? Such moments of beauty are fleeting, but can sometimes fuel the rest of the day.
Admiring the scenery
I’ve enjoyed watching the sky my whole life. It’s always been fascinating, beautiful, colorful, moody… rarely has it been dull. Sunrises and sunsets are particularly interesting, especially with the dramatic changes over the course of a mere few minutes. But a late-summer sunset somewhere noteworthy seems particularly poignant.
Recently, I was on the Cape for a glorious Friday night sunset. Late-season vacationers had dragged their beach day out for hours. While some headed off for showers and dinner, many remained. They began shifting towards the west end of the beach. Their energy from earlier in the day had shifted to mellow happiness. Couples walked barefoot or in flip flips, hand in hand. Moms held babies and dads hoisted kids on their shoulders. Everyone spoke more quietly.
For all the frenzy that people’s days can hold, and as much as people can get lost in their own heads and lives, people seemed to unconsciously form as a group, with a common interest and mood.
The summer’s end brings not just a change in the weather, but also a change in focus and in routine. Seeing people taking time to appreciate a moment became as interesting to me as the sunset itself. They were actively taking time and energy to convert that moment into a memory; a shared one, in which they embrace their lives and their shared moment.
This, to me, is as good as summer can get.
Now sporting flip flops on the weekends.
As the seasons change, progress can often happen slowly. Much of this spring has been unusually cold in New England. But Memorial Weekend started off hot and sunny.
As the unofficial kickoff to summer, it was well-timed. The weather gods rewarded my patience with a warm, glorious sunrise. The morning allowed me the chance to return to my summer flip flops, which I kicked off as I traipsed around the shallows at low tide to snap some photographs.
Perfect days aren't the norm, so they're meant to be relished. I dutifully worked to make the most of the day, from sunrise until the outdoor fire burned low well after dark. In between were some great moments heralding the start of summer vacation season: beach, boats, BBQ... I can't wait to see where these weekends take me (often still in my flip flops).
The Good Life...
is filled with little snippets of time that can disproportionately impact our days. This is a chance to capture and share them.