Dry Creek Hill

The Moon Is Down

A few dawns ago I looked through the trees and saw a beautiful full moon hanging on the horizon. My first thought was that it would make a great photo. My second thought was that I would never have time to get my camera and the shot before the moon set, so I walked to where I could get a clear view and watched the moon slowly slide below the hills.

I suppose this should teach me to keep my camera at the ready because I never know when a great shot may present itself. I guess I could have squeezed out several decent shots of the setting moon with my phone and enhanced them with careful editing, but I rarely have my phone with me when I’m hanging the hummingbird feeders at dawn. I would have been scurrying about, hoping I made it before the moon got too low.

I prefer to draw another lesson from my undocumented interchange with the moon. My life is better if I relax and immerse myself in what comes my way. I don’t need a picture of it to know I lived it. I can also guarantee that the moon will set again and I’ll have another chance if I want a photo.

Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I sometimes wonder if we are trying to document our lives so much that we are missing out on fully living. Socrates was silent on selfie sticks and photos of your quinoa and kale salad, but if the unexamined life is not worth living would he think the unlived life is worth examining?

To make up for the lack of a moon photo, here’s an artsy shot of an abandoned hill country farm house. This photo was taken by my wife, Loretta, with unhurried intention and a photographer immersed in the moment. You can see more photos here.

Just in case you’re wondering, I noted the time the moon set that morning, thinking I might catch a photo the next day. The next day’s dawn came and I forgot to look at the horizon until it was too late. (My recliner was comfy and the coffee was good.) By the third day the moon wasn’t setting until the sky was bright. Maybe next month.

A version of this post appeared in the Bandera Prophet.

2 thoughts on “The Moon Is Down

  1. shoreacres

    You’re certainly not alone in your musings, or in your conclusions. Years ago — before I even had a camera — I was influenced by Annie Dillard’s comment about two ways of seeing:

    “The difference between the two ways of seeing is the difference between walking with and without a camera. When I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading the light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment’s light [or moonlight] prints on my own silver gut. ”

    And then there’s Mary Oliver, who astutely observes that “attention without feeling is merely a report.”

    Of course, we can’t leave the scientists out, so there’s this really neat article you might enjoy.

    1. Charles Prokop Post author

      I remember reading that Annie Dillard comment myself and nodding in agreement. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is one of those books I find myself dipping back into at odd times, and I’ve always enjoyed her comments on writing.

      The article on photos and memory is interesting. It reminds of how many fewer numbers, especially phone numbers, I have memorized these days compared to years past. Now I just hit a name in the contact list on my phone. I often have no idea of what the person’s number is. There’s a lot less active involvement with a number you store by hitting “add to contacts” and a number you write down in your black book and call by dialing a rotary phone.

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