This morning an old friend posted a beautiful picture of a transitory moment when sun through a window was captured by an elegant, blue blown glass vase and then scattered across the room. Without his picture I am sure that you are having difficulty imagining the fragile luminosity of this moment.
It has been said so often as to become trite that a picture is worth a thousand words. But trite does not mean untrue. Well crafted words, whether poetry or prose can evoke elaborate mental images, even whole worlds in our minds. But the right single photograph can fix one moment, one experience that defies adequate description and make it available for sharing and keeping for several lifetimes.
Richard's picture was taken with his cell phone camera because as he said if he'd taken the time to go upstairs to get his good camera the angle of sunlight would have changed and the moment would be gone. The ubiquity of cell phone cameras and small pocket sized digital cameras has made the capture of such fleeting moments of beauty, wonder, delight, and humor easier than ever before.
I am suddenly saddened as I think about dozens of astounding images in my mind, stored with hazy imprecision from a life-time of paying attention that cannot be shared with anyone else, and become fuzzy even to me.
I particularly wish that I could borrow a TARDIS or some other vehicle of time travel and take a digital camera back to my 22 year old self, standing on the top of a hill in San Mateo, watching the setting sun slide beneath the gray marine layer and for a few brief moments turn the city of San Francisco into sparkling gold sandwiched between a lowering fog and a leaden bay.