The Montreal Botanical Garden (or Why I Take Photos)

I guess sometimes being a person who takes lots of photographs - or being around a person who takes lots of photographs (sorry, Navah) - can get annoying. I've heard people say things like, "Put down your camera. Enjoy the moment." And for a while, I took that in. I had this kind of itching concern every time I lifted my lens that perhaps I was getting Enjoying The Moment wrong.

It didn't keep me from taking pictures because there was some deeper, louder voice shoving my camera into my hand and telling me to shoot, woman, shoot. So I did. 

But there was this quibbling little thought in the back of my head that somehow I was messing it (enjoyment) up. 

And then recently I came across the hashtag #elevatetheeveryday, and I started using it in my instagram posts. And when I was out on my walks with the dog, often cold and cranky and tired, I started carrying my cell phone in my hand, keeping the camera app at the ready, and looking around as I walked to see if there was something beautiful I could capture. 

And almost every time, there was. The way the light was coming through the trees, the way my shadow fell on the ground, the way a particular leaf looked against the snow. There was always something beautiful or meaningful or worth seeing. And I realized that by engaging in that practice, I was enjoying my walks in a way I never had. 

Perhaps there are people who can just say to themselves, I am going to find beauty in this moment. And they do. But that doesn't always work for me. I can be stubborn in my crankiness.

My camera helps me to slow down, look around, and notice. My camera pulls me out of myself and into the world. My camera is a conduit through which I find beauty, through which I enjoy the moment. And it's not about being a brilliant photographer, thank goodness. It's about taking the time to honor the "everyday" beauty right in front of me. It is, I suppose, another way to practice gratitude.

So this weekend at the Montreal Botanical Gardens, I clicked away, and I didn't apologize for it. Not to anyone else (though no one was asking me to), but most importantly, not to myself. There was nothing to apologize for. I wasn't getting it wrong. 

For me, being in a beautiful place with my camera in my hand is getting it exactly right. 

p.s. As hard as it is to believe, Spring - aka beautiful flowers right here - is truly not that far away...