Once upon a time there was a woman who collected sunrises. Every morning she drove along the highway a little while before and a little while after dawn. She learned to see before it actually happened which days would begin with a dramatic, glorious splash of color, which would be softly swirled in heart-renderingly muted pastels and which would just quietly open or close without much color at all. She knew just where were the best places to stop and catch a photo of the beginning or end of the day. The places where it would be uninterrupted by a tall orchard or a plethora of high wires. The places where it might be reflected in a rice field, doubling the drama.
On the weekends she occasionally slept past the sunrise, and inevitably when she saw the tinge of color left in the already sunny sky, she felt left out. Like she’d missed one that she could never get back. And while her conscious mind told her not to worry, there would be another tomorrow, she knew inside that it would be a different one, not THIS one. Something in her heart felt the need to see each one, to collect it, whether in a photograph or in her mind’s eye, and she almost always did.
Sometimes she collected a sunrise and a sunset on the same day, although rarely were both dramatic. The saying, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning,” played through her mind every time the sun came up or went down red. When she knew that rain was predicted, she prepared herself for a glorious morning and left home in time for a stop or two along the way.
She began to build a collection of sky photos. Sometimes she shared them with friends, online or in person. Sometimes they praised the beauty of her photos, but at other times they reacted in a less than complimentary manner, telling her they just didn’t see the story in a sky photo. At first she felt let down by these reactions. She questioned herself, wondering if she was becoming a boring photographer. She even felt apologetic about her sky shots, and quit sharing them. When a fellow photographer friend asked her one morning if she was “still grinding them out,” she felt a little embarrassed by the camera constantly in her hand or around her neck. At least until she remembered that he was a really grouchy guy at times who had never seen any of her photos at all, at least not outside of her camera, and she forgave him the comment.
She suddenly realized that her passion for the sky was hers and it was compelling. And she would continue to take photos of it or not as the inspiration arose. Her pleasure and fulfillment were her own responsibility, no one elses. And she really didn’t mind at all whether anyone else was interested in them or not. She began to collect the sky at all hours of the day. Whatever would bring her that feeling of a full heart she would continue to seek, knowing that the joy of those moments was greater than any compliment or condemnation of others. It was her own, and she would treasure it.