If a tree falls in the woods and I don’t photograph it, did I really see it?
Last week, amidst the throes of last-minute packing for spring break in Hawaii, I was mentally outlining the next chapter of my manuscript. That’s the only excuse I can give for walking out of the house and onto an airplane…
Without. My. Camera.
So Thom gave me charge of his new toy, a Pentax underwater camera, for use in or out of the water. My hero!
Its zoom wasn’t as powerful, but I was grateful. As they say, “Any port in a storm!”
I snapped a handful of shots before it died. We changed the battery and…nothing. Arrrrgh! I thought about buying a new camera, but it seemed wasteful; I’m happy with the one at home. Maybe just a one-use camera, a single roll of film in a recycled plastic case? No, those photos always look washed out. Then I thought, I’ve been to Maui, and I’ll be back. How many sunsets do I need in my archives?
I don’t need to chase rainbows
I decided to make a clean break of it, go cold turkey. Perhaps my travel experience might even improve without a lens between me and my world.
Look, Ma! No cams!
I confess, I felt the pangs of withdrawal. My photographs help refresh memories I might otherwise forget.
With my camera, I am never alone.
I anticipate with pleasure the sharing of pictures with friends, family, my blogging community. Even sans camera, I was constantly framing shots in my mind’s eye. Sea turtles gliding in ocean currents. Two hotel maids walking arm-in-arm down a deserted hotel corridor. The underwater service station run by a pair of enterprising Cleaning Wrasse, with bigger fish lined up like cars at a car wash, patiently waiting their turn to be picked clean of parasites.
Oh, yes, and the kid in neon snorkel gear who shouted, “Mom! Dad! I can hear the whales singing!” Eli and I smiled indulgently at his vivid imagination.
The next morning we were snorkeling off that same beach when Eli said, “Mom! Dad! I can hear whales singing!” I thought he was teasing, but I ducked under the waves, held my breath, and listened. And I could hear them too. For an hour or more, we held perfectly still, just letting the whale song wash over us. I’d been coming to Maui for twenty years, but had never heard them. Had they been there all along? I was an astronaut, observing an alien planet from my little floating bubble, and was unexpectedly invited in for tea! And inside my snorkel mask I cried.
When we staggered onto the beach and looked out at the water, we saw them spouting, teasing us with glimpses of their fins and shiny black backs. We also saw the whale watching boat hounding them. Had they been communicating distress or just watching out for each other? Finally the boat left. And the moment it did, the whales began breaching and splashing, showing their big white bellies, time and time again! I suspect they were jumping for joy and shouting,”Woo hoo! We ditched ’em!”
It was like discovering your house is haunted with friendly ghosts going about their business, oblivious to that other world, except on those occasions when your worlds intersect. I decided the rolling ocean is The Poker Face of the World, and just beneath the surface, a swirl of emotions, life and death struggles, joy, pain, drama, and countless stories play themselves out.
There was no way a camera could have recorded that breathtaking experience, and no way I would ever need the help of a camera to recall it. Just when I resolved and resigned myself to a camera-free existence, Eli and I went for an afternoon walk.
And he taught me how to take photos with his Smart Phone.
Okay, forget everything I just told you about a camera-free life. Because then Saint Eli indulged me completely, taking me back to revisit all the beautiful sights I’d admired. We snapped all these pics and more with his Smart Phone.
Pretty pictures of stationary subjects…
…that practically come when you whistle for them.
Other photos depended upon conditions like weather.
Or where our feet happened to take us.
My favorite shots are the unexpected ones, that dropped like ripe fruit falling from a tree into my lap.
As we sat on the beach watching the sun set, directly ahead of us a whale leapt out of the ocean so close I could see the lines on its belly. It thrust one long fin into the air and waved goodbye. Exhilarating! A flash of wonder! A glimpse of the sacred just for us! It is forever engraved in our memories and upon our hearts.
But I’m THRILLED that Eli caught it on his Smart Phone!
Okay, time to come clean. I ADORE chasing rainbows…
…and I will ALWAYS go for the gold!
All images and words copyright Naomi Baltuck (and Eli Garrard!)
NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com
7 thoughts on “Chasing Rainbows”
I think the photo of you in this one is my fave, Naomi. Lovely and cheerful … and another lovely post. Thanks for all the goods you’ve popped into the hopper for us. You rocke! 🙂
Thanks so much, Jaime! It’s my pleasure.
Naomi. A post from you without photos … unheard of! But this raises an interesting thought. Once in my life, many years ago, I was an keen amateur photographer; I would never step out without my camera. I know exactly how you felt there, so dependent on your camera as a prop for your life. So it is the same with social media, writing, blogging … and ultimately eating and breathing – well, not quite that far, perhaps. But if you have a talent for creative art, whether it is writing, photography, music, painting, it becomes our life blood, the air we breath, the meat that sustains us and it hurts not to be able to do it, or at least there is a sort of ache inside, if you cannot act on an inspiration.
Anyway, presumably next time, you won’t forget your camera!
I do agree that we can capture memories without a camera – but a camera makes capturing memories so much more fun. We can enjoy a piece of cake without frosting; but why would we want to? More often than forgetting my camera, I arrive with a dead battery and no back-up. It is painful. 🙂
So wondrous! I absolutely love your posts because they are filled with such gorgeous images and engaging, humorous narration. 😀 I’ve only been to Hawaii once (Kona) but your photos brought back all those great memories and I miss it again. I used one of the disposable underwater cams and you’re right, they always develop washed out pictures, unfortunately. But isn’t it great that the phones now have cameras which can take such marvelous pics? 🙂 Yay for that aspect of technology! How magical that you were able to both see AND hear the whales! I can only imagine how amazing that was.
Awareness is the gift; it doesn’t really matter what you use to get it…a camera, caffeine, concentration…as long as that doesn’t ultimately rob you of awareness. Wake up! Look around! What a wonderful world…
Well said, Scilla, as usual. Thanks so much for adding your insight to the conversation.