One day last week while I was sitting in my studio journaling, drinking tea and having a snack I realized that I was in a perfect moment. I was fully present and everything was beautiful.
I quickly filled up a page in my Joy Journal, observing and capturing those bits of beauty. Then I grabbed my camera, shooting about a dozen photos. I expected them to be dazzling. Amazing. Profound. As perfect as that moment.
They weren't. The composition wasn't good. There was far too much contrast thanks to the bright sunshine. Even with editing they weren't usable. Maybe if I had staged and styled the photos they could have been ok. But that was not the point.
I'm sharing my imperfect photo of a perfect moment because in it I see a larger meaning.
A perfectly styled photo isn't the same as a perfect moment. A perfectly styled photo might look beautiful, might even evoke emotion and convey the sense of a perfect moment, but it is an illusion.
True perfection, beauty, joy, has nothing to do with how something looks from the outside. The best moments aren't picture perfect. The best moments are those in which you are fully present. Life isn't a perfectly styled photo. Nature can wow us with beauty. And yes, sometimes that beauty is pretty close to perfect. But life? It is never without its flaws.
That doesn't mean it isn't beautiful. It all comes down to perspective. It always does.
Take, for example, all the spent flowers in my garden right now, especially the dried up echinacea and rudbeckia flowers. I always leave them for the birds, just as I do the sunflower skeletons. Some might say they're ugly, cut them down and neaten up their sleepy gardens. I don't.
Lately when I look at them, all I see is beauty.
Last month I couldn't resist painting sunflower seed heads (here and here). These other skeletons have been calling to me, too.
Where others might see ugliness, I see grace. They're dead and twisted. Crunchy. Not the sort of dried flowers you'd make arrangements from. And yet...
I could have been sitting in that perfect moment in my studio tallying up all the negatives, the annoyances, the fears, the worries. Those things are always present. Just as the joys are. But I didn't. I chose to see the joys.
I don't always win at that struggle, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I'm present in a perfect moment. Fully, truly present. And it is beautiful, in spite of everything else.
What about you? Do you struggle with this, too? How do you stay in the moment? How do you focus on joy?