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A Momentous Moment


I was telling someone this story the other day and I thought that you all may find it just as interesting.  Last year, on one of my retreats I spent a week in Assisi, Italy.  If you ever get to Italy this is one town you have to go see, as much as I have traveled, this one is just too picturesque for words.  I had been in the retreat for about two days in silence, when I decided to take a walk to the top of the town.  The town sits on a mountain and the cobble streets wind up and down the mountain like a picture from a fairy tale book.  I took the long walk up in the hot summer heat with the sun beating down on the back of my neck.  And just kept walking up and up and up until there was nothing left to walk up to.  I wanted to go to the tippy tippy top and I didn’t want to look down at the city until I got there, because I wanted it to be one big surprise.  When I finally reached the top, I was overwhelmed by how beautiful all of it was so I immediately to out my camera to begin photographing, I was going to take a course of about twenty or thirty pictures, starting from one side and going all the way around so I would have every inch of my view covered, and then back down for lunch. 

But when I took out my camera it was broken.  The screen was cracked and I couldn’t turn it on.  I wanted to cry, here I am at the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I can’t even photograph it to look at it later and remember it.  Curse me, curse my stupid life.  Ugh *&%$# I think that’s about what I said.  I was just about to get so angry and something came over me, I just let it all go and said well if I can’t take a picture I am going to have to remember this moment.  So I stood there on the top and painted the moment in my head, the fine lines of the buildings below, the colors of the Tuscan Valley, the little chill that was in the air because I had climbed so high, and the smell of dampness after a morning rain.  I looked at the people around me and saw each person and imagined their lives.  I took the whole moment in, every last bit of it, until there was just nothing left to take in anymore.  And I slowly walked back down. 

Now I look back at that moment in my mind, and when people say visualize a beautiful place, that’s my beautiful place,  I can go back there in mind and it feels like I am still there, it feels so real, because I was able to take the time to take it in and be a part of the moment.  The alternative, I would have snapped some shots went  home downloaded them, put them on facebook, everyone say wow so pretty and then that would be the end of it.  

The irony of where and when the camera broke does not escape me either, at the top of a mountain during a meditation retreat, do you think the universe was trying to tell me something.  Because for the first time in my life I savored a moment, I was in the moment, I was everything that was before and after, I wasn’t a spectator anymore.  

Its hard to have these moments all the time, we are moving so fast trying to do so many things, we forget to really take in a moment, most of the time we unwittingly let it pass by without so much as a glance, like a mannequin sitting in a movie theater.   

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Camera Obsession

Amazing that the crack happened just at that moment.  Cameras can only capture a small amount of information compared to our bodies, hearts and minds.

A few years ago I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was witness to this scene surrounding one of Van Gogh's paintings.  There are even more cameras behind the heads.

Our culture has a bit of camera obsession, and now with the ubiquity of cell phone cameras, the urge to stare and enjoy has become the urge to "capture".  

Thanks for sharing Rachana.  A great story indeed.

LOL and the momentous moment

LOL and the momentous moment to take away from that is a whole bunch of people crowding to together to take an instant picture as a momento that has nothing to do with the actual enjoyment of the painting.   I love it.  Thank you.

Assisi.... Umbria

Lovely story. And yes Assisi is a very special place. It has an aura of peace, despite the high number of visitors it welcomes every year. I lived in easy reach of it for a long time, and visited at different times of the year. A special memory is of a snowy Christmas Eve, driving from Perugia to Assisi for Midnight Mass, and on the approach from the valley to the town, the magnificent sight of the Basilica of San Francesco illuminated in golden light on the hillside. Breath-taking.

A small correction though - it is in Umbria (Il Cuore Verde dell'Italia - "The Green Heart of Italy" ) and not Tuscany.

Happy memories!


oh that sounds so beautiful. 

oh that sounds so beautiful.  I can imagine it, and what a lovely moment you have shared with me, it literally gave me chills when I read it.  Thank you, yes Umbria. 

Ugh *&%$#

So nice your experience of being present at such a time in such a place was so much more enduring than just taking a photograph.  Great lesson for all of us. 

Thanks for sharing your great story!



Thank you Kim, loved your

Thank you Kim, loved your piece on resillience.  I needed some of that recently. 

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