almost, i missed her
I was taking pictures across a gully of an object to her right that I could not identify. I didn’t see her, although I must have been standing there for several minutes, trying to figure out what the strange object was. It was only when I gave up and started to walk away that I caught those ears out of the corner of my eye.
Ears almost bigger than her head, listening, alert. Knowing that I had no way to reach her, but aware, just the same. She never moved, never shifted a nostril or and eyelid, just stared at me, perhaps wondering if there was any danger from this woman with that black clunky thing held up to her eye. Or perhaps she was simply curious.
Almost, I missed her. With my eye trained through the lens of my camera, I failed to see what was right there in front of me. It’s not the first time this has happened, and sometimes it is a good thing, like when the heron flew through the spot my lens was focused on.
But it made me wonder what else I might have missed along those five miles, as I walked and then limped and for the last half mile or so, cursed a little. And yes, one of the reasons I went for this walk was to take pictures. But I forgot, in my mission, to be there. I forgot to just walk, to soak up the sun, to breathe in the smell of woods and wildlife, to pay attention.
Almost, I missed her.
Just another reminder on another day that life is always happening all around me, whether I pay attention or not, whether I choose to focus on what’s inside my head or what’s outside my body.
I wondered if it’s the same for her. Does she ever forget where she is, lost in memory or preoccupation with what’s for dinner?
I’d like to think not. I’d like to think that she saw me approach, sat very still as I took my photos, and smiled to herself at my complete lack of awareness. I’d like to think that she’s better at this than I am, this living. I’d like to think that she knows something I don’t.
Lesson learned? Perhaps. Except I know that I will forget again, one day soon, when I have more things on my mind than I can keep track of.
But in the end, I saw her. I didn’t miss her, not completely. The corner of my eye is still good for some things. I’m not completely unaware of my surroundings. But I do need to slow down a little, enough to catch my breath and enjoy the place I’m standing in.
That’s what she taught me from across that gully. We didn’t need words or gestures or sound. She made me understand, as I stood there, that life only moves as quickly as you let it. That stopping for a rest on a sunlit afternoon never hurt anything.
There was no danger, there.