Mind Adventures While Hunting the Summer Hummer

Mighty are the preparations for capturing the Summer Hummer.

First you need the perfect day -- enough sun on the Bee Balm to allow 1/800thsecond shutter speeds to catch this speedy creature in his aerial acrobatics. And, hopefully, shade on the chair where you will sit and wait for hours for just a few thirty-second hummer visits.

Next, just the right adjustments on those three knobs of friction settings on the tripod ball head so you can track his erratic movement, trying to keep him centered in the viewfinder. The lens has more image stabilization settings and so does the camera, deep, deep in the menu system. Aperture priority to provide greater control of depth of field. Finally choose just the right pixels on the viewing screen for perfect focus and exposure metering. And pick the right frames per second selection.

An hour passes. You’re somehow aware, and not aware, that you are concentrating, so focused, so intensely absorbed. Are you mindful, or are you mindless? Are those two states endpoints on a continuum or maybe just the same thing?

But now you’re ready and you wait, wait and wait. Forty-five minutes go by without you being present. Then you wake up and remember you’re eight feet away from the flowers and Mr. Hummer doesn’t trust this close invasion of his space – so you move back four feet.

And it works – he appears behind the Bee Balm at first. Then boldly moves to the singular flower stalks where you can isolate him against the bokeh blur. Come on. Stay there. Hover. Sip the nectar slowly. You want him to be commanded by your thoughts. Can’t he just settle there more than a second? Click, click, click, click. Click! To your disappointment he zooms up and away, beyond the towering fir trees at the back of the garden and disappears in a moment. Nothing moves, then some other bird sounds begin to register, peony fragrances pervade, and you can feel the breeze again. You’re aware you’ve been holding your breath and you inhale again.

Another half hour passes – you continually scan the 10-foot patch of red blossoms, back and forth. Looking high, looking low. Finger flicking on the shutter button. Waiting for that surprising blur announcing his next arrival. Could come from anywhere. Begin anywhere. Are you aware of your anticipation? Or oblivious to it?

Can’t tell if I’m unconsciously detached and disconnected while waiting or rigidly riveted and totally aware. Even though everyone is touting the benefits of mindfulness these days (learning the benefits of separating yourself from your thoughts), the fact is I’m just having a whole lot of fun being connected to now.

Whoa! Here he comes again …

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