Half-moon, full moon, red moon, orange moon. Hunter’s moon, blood moon, harvest moon, supermoon. New moon, quarter moon, upside-down 3/5 waxing moldy green cheese moon. Okay, so I made that last one up, but there sure are a lot of moons! A few weeks ago, we even heard about the last full moon on Friday the 13th until the year 2049…see ya then! It seems we have a tremendous fascination with the glowing orb at which we gaze in the night sky…so much so, we went to great lengths to send astronauts there to explore it. And, even though it comes and goes each night, the wonderment of it is enough to make us think at times we could simply reach out and touch it, if only we had a ladder with just the right height.
Last spring, my wife and I vacationed to a beach on the East Coast, and enjoyed nightly strolls through the sand. The March weather was cool and breezy, but we were able to gaze out across the water and watch the moon reflect brilliantly upon the mystic sea. We spent several evenings doing just that, each night taking photographs in an attempt to capture the beauty. Finally, one evening, we were on the highway heading back to our condo after dinner when I caught a glimpse of the biggest, reddest moon I’d ever witnessed through the high-rises that line the beach. I simply couldn’t wait to get back and onto the sand to get a better glimpse. Meanwhile, I readied my camera, knowing I would soon get some wonderful shots.
When we arrived back at the condo and rushed out to the beach, we were overcome with disappointment as clouds had moved in, completely covering the object of our intrigue. I watched for hours that night on our balcony, hoping it would peek out once again, but it never did. I never got that spectacular image I had longed for, but I got the memory. And maybe that’s better yet. Perhaps if I had obtained the picture, something would have been lost. It might have become commonplace and so insignificant I wouldn’t even be writing to you about it today. But it remains a unique experience all my own.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many more is a memory worth? It would seem to me infinitely more. Yet, sometimes we become so caught up with capturing every moment for the photographic record that we are unable to enjoy those special times for what they are. Young children’s sense of glee and wonderment in opening Christmas morning presents sometimes stifled for the anxious mother’s camera to catch the moment. Or the spontaneity of a lovers’ kiss dashed by the need to snap a picture. Please note I’m not anti-photography. Photographs enable us to preserve images of people and places for the future in exciting ways. However, we often fail to live in the moment and fully experience the magic of an instant in time—one we may never know again. And often the photo fails to live up to our expectations. How could it possibly capture all the emotions and thoughts associated with the moment?
Sometime, somewhere, something will catch your eye. You won’t have time to reach for a camera, you might not even have time to alert those around you. But in that moment, you’ll experience something a photo could never fully capture, words could never explain, a friend could never comprehend. You’ll be left with only the experience and the memory. It might not be tomorrow, next week, or next year, but it happens…every once in a blue moon.