In high school, I was fortunate enough to have Janet Williams as my teacher for several English classes. Mrs. Williams was wonderful–engaging, bright, cultured, and interested in the lives of her students.
And every year, as the live oaks unfurled their new leaves and sent the old ones fluttering to the ground, she led us out of the classroom to a balcony near one of the grandest oaks. “Look,” she’d say, pointing to a branch with a new sheaf of leaves. “and now listen.”
And then she’d recite a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which I am typing here mostly from memory:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day,
Nothing gold can stay.
I have always loved that poem, and I think of it–and Mrs. Williams–every spring, where one of Florida’s few signs of spring is the unfurling of the live oak leaves and the accompanying golden dust that settles over every stationary object and makes me sneeze. But more than the poem itself, I remember the lesson it contains–nothing stays the same. Your beautiful babies, your precious (and sometimes trying) toddlers, the blush of new love, the thrill of an accomplishment or an award, the shine on that new car–you know what? It won’t last. Babies grow, toddlers mature, love settles into a pattern, the thrill wears off, and the new car shine will dull.
I think that’s one reason why I’ve gone into photography. I love capturing moments in creative images that WILL remain for as long as the owner cherishes it.
The other day one of my neighbors remarked that his wife was going to bring their new baby over for a picture, but she didn’t want to take him out in public during his first six weeks. I tried not to grimace, because at six weeks, the baby is already too big for some of the newborn photos I like to create. That baby may come in and I can still take his picture, but those newborn opportunities are gone for good.
So call a photographer or pull out your camera. But more than that, STOP at some point in your day today and realize that this moment will never come again. As a friend of mine wrote in a song,
“Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment . . . today.”