As hard as it is to believe, this mid-January weekend was a beach weather weekend with highs in the upper 70’s and low 80’s. We took our t-shirts and shorts with us to church so we could make a quick change afterwards and head to the beach. There was a thin cloud cover, but no wind to speak of. The ocean temperature was, shall we say, invigorating. It was too cold for more that a quick dip of our toes in the surf. The tidal pool, however, was warm enough for comfortable wading.
As the kids searched for shells in the tidal pool, Cathy and I sat on beach towels and watched, soaking in the peacefulness of the surf sounds. I noticed a seagull on the sand inching closer and closer to us. I watched him with interest, noting the crook in his beak and the pattern of his feathers. I saw that he didn’t have a black tail with spots like most of the other seagulls around us did and wondered what kind of gull he might be. I realized that he was about as close as a seagull will get (except for when you feed them), so I reached for my phone to snap a picture of it. This is what I got:
I missed my chance. It’s not that I wasn’t interested. I was. It’s not that I didn’t think about it. I did. It’s not that I didn’t have the tools to capture a picture. I did. I just didn’t act quickly enough.
I spend a lot of time inside my head – mulling over ideas for stories and sermons, blog posts and writing group essays, newsletter articles and workshop applications. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, I can work themes around in my brain until all that’s left to do is sit at the keyboard to record what is there. Notice, I said “sometimes.” That is not the norm.
Most of the time it works more like this: An idea breaks into my consciousness. I notice it. I wonder if it’s workable or not. I think about how I might use it, and where. Suddenly I realize that maybe I should take the time to capture that idea. But how? Is this a note card idea or a journal idea? If it’s a journal idea, which journal? That’s an even harder question now, because I received two beautiful new journals for Christmas. Surely only the best and brightest words and ideas should earn a spot in them, right? Wait – where’s a pen? With all these journals and note cards lying around, you’d think I could find just one pen somewhere. Where did all the pens go? Is there a keyboard nearby? If so, should I use Evernote or Dropbox? It goes on and on.
By the time I’ve worked through all of this, the idea has gotten bored and wandered away. Or maybe it’s insulted because I took so long to act and it flies off in a huff. Or maybe it spots someone down the way a little who looks more receptive and prepared. All I’m left with is a glimpse of the tail feathers as it takes flight.
I get so close! It’s not that I’m not interested. I am. It’s not that I don’t think about it. I do. It’s not that I don’t have the tools. I do. I just don’t act quickly enough. Really, I must do better. Ideas, like seagulls, won’t wait around on me forever.