I was thrilled to suddenly stumble upon this egret bathing in Lake Anchovy in the fog.
It was a pleasant surprise on what had been an otherwise awful morning of hopelessly searching Plover Park for any sign of Jimin, the missing, baby Piping Plover.
In fact, this particular day seemed even to have been born of disappointment when I awoke to what I had fully expected to be a pleasant morning for photography, unfortunately based on a forecast which had somehow utterly failed to mention the possibility of the heavy blanket of cold, drenching fog I soon found myself lost in.
One of the best parts about getting out into the natural world and immersing yourself in the life of wild animals is getting all of your internal clocks synced up with more natural rhythms. I find the pace to be softer, gentler, and generally more soothing than the rigid, unrelenting, chronically hurried pressures of our clocks, calendars, alarms, alerts, and other trappings of the rat race we call civilized living.
But even religiously hauling yourself out into the most remote wilderness does not alone guarantee you’ll be able to let go and get there; as this morning almost proved. Perhaps even heavier than the wet blanket of fog, I was dragging around my disappointment regarding what I had expected the weather to be.
I’m glad I saw this egret. But I wonder what else I missed simply because I believed I had wanted to be seeing something different.
It makes you wonder how much of our sadness, both personal and collective, is based on a failure to meet expectations we didn’t need to have in the first place. And how much of our happiness is actually based on those few things so powerfully unusual and exciting that they can shatter the deadening blur that our pointless expectations cover the world in.
I don’t want to sound paranoid here. But I’m becoming suspicious that the world is far more full of joy than we realize. Maybe we just don’t want to see it because it would crush our expectations and feel like a denial of our desires. So instead we choose to wander in a damp fog of perpetual and pointless disappointment, while countless gifts and blessings swirl all around us, as abundant and blinding as snowflakes in a blizzard.
If I’m right, that would be really unexpected.
I think and hope you might be right. It’s another way we try for control, which is an illusion.
I really like your comments that there are a lot of really nice things out there in the world like great egrets and lots of other things but some people tend to overlook the positive and dwell on the negative things. We get into habits. I vote for the positive habits!! Everyone should sit down and do a list of their thoughts. Maybe a change would be good.
Agreed, 100%. I go through phases, but I tend to be a big abstract list writer so I am forced to confront what is on my mind, reflect on it, and adjust. Slightly related and true story: I only wound up living along the coast because my wife and I sat down when we were first married and wrote lists of the things we most wanted to do with our lives. The only thing we had in common (and #1 for both of us) was “live by the ocean.” It seemed hopelessly impossible at the time. But about eight years later we made it happen. To this day I am still convinced we never would have made the dream come true if we hadn’t written it down. Writing can not only break bad habits and negative thought patterns, but can fill that space with goals and dreams which can be manifested with some effort and patience. I believe this because it happened to me!
Thank you for this.
Beautiful photo. Nature photography at its best!
That is incredibly generous and kind. Thank you!
Beautifully written, as always, Jim!
Nature has been my reality check when expectations cloud things. Two baby squirrels playing the other day reset my perspective. Cliche, but perspective is reality.
Teresa, not cliche at all! I think there is a post coming about perspective. Jimin was fine. He totally disappeared for almost 10 days then magically reappeared. I’m sad I did not get to tell his full story. It is a doozy.