It’s coming up to my 15 year wedding anniversary.
We honeymooned in Canada and then Alaska, as we wanted quite an active holiday. I was at a point in my life where I was shunning beach holidays as I preferred a faster pace experience. (These days my life is a lot busier with kids and running my own business, so now I relish a lazy beach holiday).
Pre-wedding and honeymoon I recall very clearly looking at our Lonely Planet guide section on ’flora & fauna’, marvelling at all the wildlife in Alaska. I recall reading one particular passage of the book to my soon-to-be husband on brown bears. The book predicted the likelihood of seeing a bear was incredibly remote but we both still hoped to see one. We also joked that perhaps we didn’t want to see one because of the danger.
So we’re in Alaska and decide to go kayaking. The waters were expansive and interspersed with small bits of land and forest. It was great fun and utterly breath-taking scenery.
As we navigated through the water we came to a clearing and in the distance we saw a brown bear with a cub. Potentially a very dangerous situation, but we were far enough away not to get too concerned, but my adrenaline was still pumping I can tell you.
Mother bear proceeded to rear up on her hind legs to take a look at what was going on around her, or now that I think about it, maybe she was testing for any new scents in the air. It was a truly, -once in a life time- magical moment.
So is this just a cool story about a scary but exciting encounter with a bear?
We had a camera in the kayak. Our sighting of the bear was just a mere few seconds. There was a very clear and decisive moment where I decided not to grab the camera. Why? I wanted to fully experience the beauty of what was unfolding. I wanted to be in the moment.
Now our egos would have us think “Hey, I need to get a picture of this! So I can show everyone else.” My ego might also try and convince me that it was a way to capture the memory. But in that moment I made a very intuitive decision that the magic was happening right there in that moment, and that I would miss it if I started scrabbling around for a camera to catch the thing I would be entirely missing by my scrabbling around for the camera and worrying about getting a good shot.
In what I’m pointing to here, the bear is a bit of a red herring too. You see I have noticed a massive change in my day to day experience of life. I have slowed down immensely. I have become more present and relished the simplicity of the most basic things in my life. Yeah it was a very cool holiday but I know those moments in life when you get very present are golden, and can happen even when your washing dishes. We all do well to metaphorically ‘put the camera down’ and really engage with being present to the simple moments in our lives.