I spent my Labor-Day holiday stalking herons. I took a lot of pictures, downloaded them, and showed them to friends and family.
"Nice," they said.
I was a little disappointed.
Then I realized that, as I already knew, the photos aren't that great.
For me, however, something was wonderful, astounding, joyous, fulfilling.
I realized, finally, that it was the experience of stalking the herons.
It was sort of like climbing a mountain. When I was younger, I climbed mountains. I would walk, hike, scramble and struggle upward over rock, climb cliffs. I needed a lot of attention on where I put my feet and hands. I had to concentrate. Then, finally but suddenly, I was at the top. The sky opened and the scenery was spread before me. It was a rush. Joy. Satisfaction. Accomplishment.
The day before yesterday, I sat in the thistles on the bank of the pond and inched my way closer and closer to this heron. The long, sharp thorns pricked my skin. It was hot hot hot; the sun beat down on my face, sweat ran down in rivulets, and I sat and watched and waited and inched forward. I was concentrating. I was aware of the smell of the pond and the mud, the view of swans and turtles, the sun and the sweat, the heron, panting in the heat, standing totally still, or walking a step, and then standing still.
I inched forward, over and over, until I was closer than I have ever been before to a wild heron. I sat and watched. I took a lot of pictures. I don't have the best camera or the best lens. The background was cluttered. The pictures are imperfect. But I was alive, awake, aware.
I was having a peak experience. I can't share that with my friends and family, the living experience.
For them, it was just another heron photo. They've seen hundreds, and many better than mine.
For me, it was a lot better than "nice."
Would I have been as happy if I didn't succeed at capturing any photographs? Perhaps not, afterwards. But during the stalking, I was so in the moment that I was beyond happy.
I hope to post more heron shots and some heron info, sometimes soon.