On a recent quiet day, my wife and I drove up to a gorgeous quarry and hiking trail up in the Rockport area. The idea was to spend some quiet time together, catch up a bit, as a life with kids, bills, and pressure often don’t allow for.
It was truly majestic. Gorgeous water pools, rock formations of the most exquisite shapes. Waves crashing against the different rocky shores, and lush green forest hiking trails leading you to these beautiful sites.
(I am a big believer of the importance of couples to take periodic time outs to reconnect with each other, away from the pressures and journeys of life. So a secular holiday where my children had school was the perfect opportunity.)
As we hiked and climbed, walked and jogged, picnicked and of course taking many pictures on our phones, I was suddenly struck with a very basic epiphany. (Can an epiphany be basic?) It wasn’t rocket science, but it was as brilliant to me, insofar as clarifying an idea much bandied about in modern day psychology, and even in Chassidus.
We were finishing our day of hiking, and began exiting the State Park via one of those deep green lush trails, where the tree’s almost met each other at the tops, forming a canopy, making it feel like we were walking through a tube of nature. I just had to take a picture of that.
It was then that it became clear to me. Someone, anyone, myself included, if they were to look at us at that moment, or were to look at a picture of that moment, they’d see pure happiness and bliss. Total serenity, and complete perfection. A life devoid of challenge and struggle, just a blissful and happy couple enjoying nature together.
While I wish that were true, sadly, I have not yet arrived at that nirvana. Yet, I myself felt totally at peace at the moment myself.
So which is the real truth? My temporary magical moment? Or my larger life that is far from tranquil?
The answer my friends, was being held in my hand. Hi hanosenes, the one that brought the question, gave the answer. The camera/IPhone that generated the question is the same camera/IPhone that gave clarity to the answer.
You see, when you hold your camera, you can zoom in and zoom out. Sometimes you see a beautiful sight or setting, and it is most magnificent and gorgeous. However, When you expand the picture, widen the lens, or zoom out, the same scene can get marred by the ugliness or the simple mundanity of what is in front of you.
The reality of what is there did not change. However, focusing on the specific item of beauty, allows you to zero in on the object of your affection or item of beauty. This is the beauty and power of the whole photography industry. To capture that magical moment amidst the myriad of moments of the dull and humdrum, or worse yet, amidst the ugly and profane.
This is the clarity that I observed at that moment. In life, we can get stuck on the big picture and be unable to stop and focus on the beauty, the miracles and the blessings that are abundant in our lives. Some call it “seeing the forest for the trees.” There is indeed great wisdom there.
There is an old chassidic expression, “ א חסיד, וואו ער איז , איז ער אינגאנעען” which translates to, “ A chassid, where he is, he is there completely.” In a general way that means, don’t be half-hearted. If you are invested in something (good) be invested all the way.
I take it to mean something a bit deeper. You can zero in on the things that are good in your life. And you can be there completely. You can put all the other distractions aside for those few precious moments that you are focused on the blessings of that moment.
Sure, you will have to zoom out and deal with the larger issues of life at a later point, even in a few minutes from now. But now, your job is to be completely absorbed by your blessings of this moment. Relish them, than Gd for them, and celebrate them.
This is not only good for your physical well-being, but it is good for your spiritual well-being as well.
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