I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The measure of treasure

Pine cones caught in lichen
I didn't take many pictures on our hike last Thursday, since it was grey and rather wet, but as we walked along I saw this little set of pine cones captured in some of the lichen that hangs everywhere from the trees. I believe this is old man's beard lichen, but after spending a bit of time researching it, I'm not at all sure if it is a lichen or a moss. It's everywhere around the Pacific Northwest, and since a recent windstorm had downed several trees, there was plenty of it littering the trail, along with branches and sometimes even very large trees that we had to navigate around.

Even though I now only carry my cellphone camera, I still cannot resist trying to capture pictures that catch my eye and awaken my artistic side. I never have more than a few seconds to decide whether to attempt to take the picture, and even less time to find the best angle. And with the iPhone 7, I still don't know the capabilities of its camera. It managed to focus on the pine cones and gave the background a nice blur, so it pleased me when I looked at the picture later. More often than not, as I sit in the car on the way home examining my pictures, I'm disappointed at what I see. But that's the beauty of digital photography: I simply delete it, no agonizing over it.

Do you remember when we had cameras that used film to capture images? My first camera was a Brownie, a little box camera that took 127 film pictures in black and white. I clearly remember loading the camera and making sure I didn't allow any light to get onto the film cartridge as I placed it into the back of the camera body. Snapping it shut and turning the knob on the top until it stopped, knowing that I was ready to take a picture! Oh, the anticipation of what I might have captured in that little box! In my mind I was always convinced that it would be wonderful. Of course, I had to wait until I used up the film and took the film cartridge to be developed at the local camera store. I looked forward to picking up the developed film and sitting down to see what treasures I might have in my little hands.

Obviously, not much has survived from those days, since my treasures never measured up to my dream of some magnificent shot that would make me gasp with delight. More often, they were blurry and out of focus, or unflattering pictures of my siblings or parents that gave us a few laughs and then went into the bottom of a drawer somewhere. If I could reach back in time to those moments, I'm sure I would cherish those pictures of long-gone people and places. But that was then, this is now and although I think there might actually be some of those pictures in the possession of my siblings somewhere in their own keepsakes, I myself have nothing but my memories.

Pondering those long-ago days, thinking of how something as simple as a snapshot taken in the moment could become a treasure in a future world, I wonder what around me in this moment might be treasured in twenty years that I don't even register as important. We live in such a different world today, and there is much that is ephemeral and would not be missed, but are there artifacts or paraphernalia around me that hide their future value? What around me would I cherish tomorrow if it were suddenly lost to me?

Well, certainly I would miss my electronic devices. I love my laptop, looking at it right now and thinking how essential it has become to my existence. My cellphone is always with me these days, and I use it to check the weather forecast or my email wherever I might be. They connect me to the larger world as well, thinking of this very blog I'm writing in, and how much I would miss it if it were taken from me. What I treasure about it, though, is not the thing itself, but the richness it brings to my daily life.

The other day at the coffee shop as I was reading the news on my iPad, a young man asked if he could take my picture, along with my friends John and Gene. Each of us was reading on our separate tablets at the community table, and the young man marveled at how much the world has changed, with nary a newspaper in sight as the old folks perused the daily news. That is one thing I treasure right now, today: the connection with my friends as we visit with each other at the coffee shop. Although we each have our own devices, we are constantly stopping to hold up a picture or a cartoon to share with the others, laughing or nodding our heads in solidarity. In fact, once I finish with this post and start my day, I'll be heading off to the coffee shop to get my daily dose of friendship.

And I know for certain that one day it will come to an end, because everything does. I'll look back and remember these days with affection, but at this moment right now I can appreciate them and treasure them. It occurs to me that it isn't the thing itself I would miss (sitting in the coffee shop), but the companionship and community we share. That is one of the reasons I would miss you, you who are part of my virtual community, and the moments we share with one another in the moment.

Ah. It happened again: i was thinking about writing about something entirely different today, but this came out of my head and waltzed onto the page without much volition on my part. Last night an old nursery rhyme kept going through my mind and I looked it up (of course) and was going to write about the meaning of Mother Goose. It could still happen another day, but sometimes I think I don't actually run this show but ride the universal waves of thought to wherever they take me.

It's time to get up and do that very thing: start my day. I've got a massage scheduled at noon, which is always something I look forward to and treasure. Partner is still asleep next to me, and I sense the day's events pulling me right out of bed. I hope you will take a moment or two to think about what and who you treasure right now and be thankful. Be well until next week, dear treasured reader.


Anonymous said...

As Puck said in "A Midsummer's Night Dream": All's well that ends well.

Tabor said...

Everything does end and I think that is why the Buddha insight is to live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow or send regrets back to yesterday as we cannot change those time zones but have only today to be a part of life. Oddly I also posted about photos...a bit differently a day ago.

Linda Reeder said...

Something I heard this week got me to thinking about what things I treasure. The question was, if you had a few days to pack one suitcase and then be put on a bus or train, as the Japanese were forced to do in the 1940's what would you take?
My first thought was of photos. Now-a-days, I could download everything on my hard drive onto a memory stick - takes almost no space at all. But there are all of those albums I have from days before digital photos and computers. I guess I would have to just grab a few out of each of the many albums I have that cover most of my life and the lives of my children and grandchildren. They are treasures, but i certainly don't need ALL of them.

Marie Smith said...

You always give us so much in your Sunday posts, Jan. We had a picture taken with two friends recently as four of us used our Ipads. Seniors have taken to technology in a big way. It does enrich our lives. There is a fine line between use and over-use however. Balance is the key as with everything.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Ah yes the devices with digital cameras are so useful. I use the flashlight to highlit buttons on the dishwasher I now find hard to read. I take pics of instructions so I can zoom them and read them in larger text. Of course photos of other things still grab my attention.
And I do agree that I love a community to be a part of. I think Buddy and I might try a small coffee place regularly and see what comes our way. There is one nearby we can walk to on nice days.
I do wonder what future hand held devices might crop up or will our current ones remain around like the planes and cars with just newer models? That we can talk to the devices has both merits and demerits. Listening to another's search is not that cool in my opinion.
Have a great week.

Gigi said...

I remember film cameras! I much prefer the digital ones because, as you said, you can delete the ones you don't care for and try again.

You are definitely fit into one of my treasured people, DJan. Have a wonderful week.

Arkansas Patti said...

Ah yes, those days of film. Actually the wait for seeing the results wasn't so bad in those days for we expected it and it was so exciting opening that envelope to see what came out. Today's youth would be appalled at the wait to see the results. They and we have gotten so use to instant gratification.
I treasure the Internet for its opening the world of information for anyone who can type and for its tearing down the barriers of distance for friendship. It's good times we are living in isn't it?

Far Side of Fifty said...

I understand the excitement of loading the film...I was often disappointed too. I so enjoy the digital age and the instant gratification photographs can bring. I love having camera time! I would miss all my old photographs if they were lost, luckily many of the most important ones are on my blog! WIN WIN! I hope you have a wonderful week and enjoy those friend of yours! :)

Linda Myers said...

Yes, it's all about companionship and community. Thanks for the excellent reminder.

Red said...

When I started reading this post I thought , this isn't the usual topic! It's go to go off on a tangent sometimes. We have changed from the Brownie Hawkeye but now we're changing faster than ever. Since we're older we tend to think that things will remain until we take our leave. We will be surprised how much things will change.

Carole said...

"Daily dose of friendship". I love that! Thanks for another encouraging and inspiring post DJan!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I remember those Brownies! Beautiful post, DJan!

Barb said...

I LOVE digital cameras. My grandson is taking Photography as an elective next year in 9th grade. I started him on digital cameras when he was old enough to hold them steady. They will be doing some work with film in his photography class, and I think that will be good for him. Learning the old ways before moving on with the new. Right now, he's very interested in videography. I wonder if that lichen is evergreen mistletoe? It could be Old Man's Beard, too. Either way it will eventually kill the tree. I see Old Man's Beard growing on some of the cedars on the trail behind me, causing the trees to eventually die. Have a great week, DJan!

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

I always carry a small pocket camera with me, though i have a phone, i seldom use it as my main source of photography. A bit of a camera snob my eldest daughter says. Oh well, we all have our quirks. I remember film camera, in fact i still have one Pentax K 1000, though I haven't used it in eons. Not much is valued as it once was though I believe all our published works online may have some staying power and a testament to our existence. If that turns out to be true I hope all our words inspire, enlighten and delight those in the future.


“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence”-Rabindranath Tagore

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Surely like the photo taken with your iPhone. The smartphone cameras continue to amaze me. Yes, I often reflect back on the days of film and lugging that camera around, it was no fun, and the results were often just as you describe. The experience in my family is much like yours … pictures were taken way back when, but who knows if any of them still exist, and, if so, who has them. It is something to wonder about, isn’t it? Another fine post here, thank you for writing and sharing.