I should start by saying there is a part of me that is a wanna-be photographer. I LOVE taking photographs. I love capturing everything that I find beautiful about the world around me. Moments of humanity and joy, beautiful details in life and nature, and things that inspire me. My expertise in this field is comprised of Photography 101 in college. But despite my lack of formal education, I soldier on and make up my own rules to create images that make me personally feel something.
So on vacation last week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I did something I had always talked about doing, but never did. It wasn’t anything difficult or scary, but it did require sacrificing sleep, one of my most prized hobbies – I got up in time to walk down to the ocean and document the sunrise.
I rolled out of bed at 5:45, and schlepped down to the beach in time for the sun to rise at 6:04 am. In the moments before the first rays of sun appeared in the sky, I was overwhelmed by the activity on the beach. The ghost crabs had clearly been very busy, tunneling ALL over the beach. There were little holes EVERYWHERE all in a row at the edge of the water, completely untouched by human beings taking their walks along the water’s edge. And the crabs themselves surrounded me, eyeing me suspiciously.
Suddenly, peaking out over the horizon came the hot orange sun, creating the most intensely pink sky. As I started shooting, I realized I had never stopped to just watch a sunrise or sunset from start to finish. Stopped fully to just watch and appreciate the beauty of it. How sad is that? It’s something that happens every day, and at 31 I was fully appreciating it for the first time. I was in awe of how quickly everything changed with this one act of the sun making its way up into the sky – the coloration of the world around me changed so many times in the ½ hour it took to ascend into what most would call full daylight. The ocean changed. The crabs hid. And the world of man awoke. Every stage was so beautiful. And it filled me with this sense of how incredible the world is, and how small my place is in it. But at the same time, as I witnessed the day begin, it filled me with the thought that the possibilities for the day were endless.
I walked the length of the beach all the way down to the Avon Beach Pier, photographing anything of interest as I went, and walked back home. My whole trip lasted about an hour and a half, but I came back at 7:30 feeling refreshed, free, and accomplished – I had witnessed this miraculous thing that, yes, I know, happens every day, but was completely awe inspiring, and I was able to document every moment of it that had brought me joy.
This idea of starting my day by doing something that brings me joy and fills me with a sense of accomplishment is something I’ve been thinking about since returning home. And so on Thursday, I decided I’d get up an hour earlier than I normally do, and just paint a little bit. The night before, I set out my easel, canvas, paints and brushes, so that all I would need to do is get out of bed and begin in the morning. I didn’t want to give myself one reason to NOT paint. And it totally worked. It wasn’t as though I got a ton done, but the point was that I started my day with something that was completely for me, something that made me happy, and no matter what happened for the rest of the day that day, at least I had done that. Victory. And it’s a strategy for taking charge of creating my own happiness that I will try again in the future. What strategies do you use?