This was supposed to be a sunrise shot. At least that's sort of the image I had in mind when I saw the morning's first light come beaming over the eastern horizon. Envisioning something in silhouette—say, the giant sycamore over by the fence, or maybe the walnut up on the driveway—I put my coffee mug aside and grabbed the camera. Then I went out in the yard and waited…and waited…and waited.
Oh, the sun came up. And there was some nice pinkish-orange light. But it wasn't spectacular—and I couldn't find the angle or the foreground object to make an image that worked. My sunrise expectations fizzled.
Then I turned around to head back inside and looked westward. Wow! The still-darkened sky was a deep blue, while fat rows of puffy white clouds caught the burgeoning light—glowing gold and lemon, with peachy pink highlights. All I had to do was point and snap.
It's a lesson I've been relearning over and over all my life: embrace the surprise. Things won't always work out as planned…but look around instead of grumbling about defeat. The unexpected might be better than whatever you'd planned.
I can't tell you how many times I've gone after trout and came home with a bonanza of morel mushrooms instead of fish. Or it might have been smallmouth bass that turned into butternuts. Or bluegills instead of dandelion greens. I've set off on wildflower forays and found fossiles or arrowheads. I've gone hiking to a distant waterfall and discovered a cave. And grumpily attended a boring-but-inescapable cocktail party where I ended up meeting a kindred spirit who became a friend for life.
Moon-the-Dog, my beloved companion for more than fourteen years, was found during a pawpaw expedition in the hills and hollers woods of southeastern Ohio, near the ghost town of Moonville.
The point is, we don't know where a particular path may lead, can't always predict what the next moment may provide. But serendipity awaits, if only we keep our eyes and minds and hearts open to such possibilites. That's part of the adventure.
Embrace the surprise. Or as Yogi Berra so wonderfully puts it, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!"