The Back Page – Seeing, Not Saving, the Moment


The Back Page

Seeing, Not Saving, the Moment

October 1 and it is still warm enough for ocean kayaking. I get by with a little help from my shortie
wetsuit.
6:15 a.m., the surf is down, the sky ablaze. Out past the breakers, east so beautiful that I paddle in
that direction instead of south. Rusty mist hugs the horizon, purple clouds hover above. Yellows, peaches,
pinks, and blues. Paddling stops 200 meters out so I can simply sit and stare. A Zen moment? Maybe. But
Zen is not alone in encouraging enjoying the now.
Few sounds other than waves rumbling south near the inlet, and an occasional whitecap sloshing
nearby. Wavelets slap my skiff. Sandpipers skim the surface.
A thought: sharing this requires a picture. But I no longer try to photograph sunrises. Like life,
sunrises can’t be kept, only observed and enjoyed as they unfold. My Buddhist friends might object that
trying to capture a sunrise, in an attempt to relive it later, is taṇhā, the “clinging” that contributes to life’s
dukkha. Why not savor the real thing? Each real thing as it arrives? How many times have you seen
people so busy “capturing” a moment on their phones that they missed the moment itself?
A turn south into wind and waves, which now slap in earnest against the hull. After a few moments,
a backward glance reveals a bright orange spot on the horizon. The sun is coming! I stop to watch. Up he
leaps, and more quickly than imagined clears the horizon. A new day is born … and a new month.
Colors fade to pastels. A huge overhead X of contrails cradles a three-quarters moon. One of those
jets might be soaring to Asia, from which I have been away for two years. Another temptation to taṇhā.
But I am here and not there, so that thought fades.
Being out at sea is so pleasant, I never know when to paddle back to shore. But this morning’s
experience is now clearly complete. No sense trying to prolong it; manna kept is worms.

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