Fleeting Moments

A bowl of citrus fruits was smeared across the sky, deep oranges and smoky yellows blended together like paint on an artist’s canvas. Then someone threw a shower of glitter on top of the fiery mosaic sky. It was a long weekend at the cottage and, over the lake, fireworks were exploding into the sunset. I wanted to run and grab my camera, but I paused. Could I have captured the beauty of the sky, without the camera altering the colours? Maybe. But I was less confident in my ability to change the camera’s settings and press the shutter at the perfect moment to photograph the fireworks. So I stayed by the window and watched not through the lens of a camera, but with my eyes.

The next day, I was struck by a similar situation. It was a sunny afternoon, the kind that feels too good to be true. I was in a kayak, enjoying the rippling water in the otherwise calm bay. In front of me there was a pathway of sorts, an arch of tree trunks bending over the water. I passed a cluster of lily pads as I paddled under the hanging trees. The trees, the water and the sun gave way to pure serenity. If I had my camera, could I have taken a photo that reflected the absolute silence of the bay? Could I have immortalized, in pixels, the clear water and the reaching branches? Maybe, but maybe not. I stopped wishing I had brought my camera and started to soak in the scene, sans technology.

Believe it or not, the evening after the fireworks display, the same thing happened again. The sunset had come and gonepink this night, not orangeand outside it was pitch black. But then the sky lit up. Someone was setting off a spectacular firework display from a raft. Red lights flew into the sky; then green, then what appeared to be purple. Then dazzling white lights erupted, stark against the black backdrop of the evening. This time, I grabbed my phone. I didn’t worry about taking the “perfect shot”; I used Instagram’s “Boomerang” feature to capture short videos that reversed themselves. In my videos, the fireworks exploded spectacularly and then retreated into themselves.

Oftentimes the moments we want to saviour are fleeting. We sometimes have a tendency to try to make those moments immortal; in other words, fool ourselves into thinking that we can make them last forever. Taking a photo is one way to make a moment last forever, but there are so many things that a photo doesn’t capture: the scent of fresh air on the open lake; the feeling of complete calmness when the blue sky fades into a painter’s palette; the screeching sound that the fireworks make as they soar into the sky, and the crackling sound they make as they fall.

Sunsets fade to black. People run out of fireworks. Moments end: this is an inevitable fact of life. But the fact that these moments exist at all is what makes life worth living. Because the sun rises the morning after it sets; because there is another firework-filled holiday to look forward to in the future. If we capture a beautiful moment, however imperfectly with a camera or however hastily with our eyes or other senses, we can find something to remember it by. And maybe, then, in a way, we really can make a moment last forever.


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32 thoughts on “Fleeting Moments

  1. I really appreciate this. Once in a while I’ll go on a walk or see something really beautiful and forget to take a picture, but it still sticks in my mind even now. Not everything has to be captured on camera to be immortalized.

  2. Excellent blog; well written and passionate yet informing the reader of real experiences. We are a writing group, and next time we run a session on blogging yours will probably be recommended!

  3. I’ve also at times wished I had a camera (I still haven’t bought one) but I’ve realized over time that being present in the moment helps to better enjoy it. And afterwards, it can be put it into words – like you just did. 🙂

  4. I never understood why people take pictures/videos of fireworks. Part of the magic is feeling the boom once they explode and smelling the haze as it wafts past. You can’t capture the moment in just a picture/video; it doesn’t give the experience justice. It makes me sad to see people living life through their phone instead of in the moment. They would rather capture that ‘memory’ instead of live it.

  5. This is such a thoughtful post. I to sometimes feel the need to document the beauty around me before I get the chance to take it all in. sometimes we as humans get so caught up in wanting memory’s that we loose the joy of the experience.

  6. This was a lovely read! I love how I could easily imagine the scenery you were trying to paint through your words. Now that I think about it, there are many memories in my mind that are meaningful to me personally, although they were not captured through camera. Whenever I’m unable to take photos, I make sure to write about it before the day ends, while the feeling is still there. Thanks for writing! I’ve followed you on Bloglovin’ as well 🙂

    http://helloannajo.blogspot.com

  7. Beautiful words. You really do allow your readers to imagine those scenes.

    I have a terrible memory, but I find that when I take photos it actually helps me to remember the real-life beauty, even if I cannot quite capture it in pixels. So, later, when I look back at photos I can remember the happy feelings, the smells, the warmth (or how freezing i was!) I love the idea of being able to remember all these things without photos, but my brain just doesn’t work quite well enough – I need the visual stimulus to keep everything else fresh.

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