Finding stillness

Keeping still isn't easy out here in the world.  

Just try it. If you stand still long enough in public, even in a park like this in the middle of the city, odds are you'll get a visit from the local security forces.

"What are you doing, sir?"

"Just. keeping still, officer."

Likely that won't be a satisfactory answer and more questions, at the least, will follow. But today, as is the case on most days, there's a camera in my hands. It's like a magic talisman that keeps questions at bay.

"What are you doing, sir?

"Taking photos of birds, officer."

"Oh. OK."

So it's acceptable to just to stand here in the relative silence of this less-trodden part of Point Pleasant Park and .... wait.

What I'm waiting for is a common yellowthroat, a visually striking little warbler that resembles a masked bandit with its band of black around the eyes. I heard its distinct  'witchety-witchety" call as I walked by and I may have spotted him flickering through the bushes.

I keep still, camera on and with the proper bird-friendly settings. I study the small slice of the wooded world in front of me and open myself up to it, alert to any movement or sound in the shadowy underbrush. After a bit, I realize I'm enjoying the moment just as much as I might enjoy getting a shot of the yellowthroat.

Too often, even in the real woods, not the reasonable facsimile of the urban park, I see a bird or snake or deer, and the urge to record and crystallize the moment overtakes the moment itself. I want the photo NOW. 

It's not a natural skill for me, keeping still. I'm the guy whose legs are jittery and bouncy beneath the desk at the office. I'm impatient for that red to change to green, dammit, I've got places to be, not here at the traffic lights where we supposedly spend an average six months of our lives. 

So I've learned to appreciate the times like these when I will myself to become part of the scenery and simply stop.

No yellowthroat. Too bad. The only shot of one I've taken is pretty weak.

So the only documentation will be these words and the memory of stillness on a summer day. That will do.