when my husband and i first started dating, part of my induction into his "world" was an obligatory trip to sleeping bear dunes. if you haven't been there, it's on the northwest coast of michigan, a 450 ft sand dune, pristine, beautiful, surrounded by the turquoise waters of big and little glen lake. never having been to anywhere in michigan but detroit and flint before this trip, i was stunned by the natural beauty, the fresh, crisp air, and the fact that this little gem was in the midwest of all places.
after we raced up the hill that first time (i won!), it became our habit to, whenever we were in the area, make the trek up the sand dune, to stop. breathe in the air. soak up the view. and come down a little more renewed than when we came.
so when we had our first child, this was one of those "must do's" on our list of things we loved, that we had to share with him—an induction into our family rituals and the places that we hold dear.
we had brought him to the dunes once before, only then he was still an infant, strapped in a baby bjorn and not quite cognizant of the magnitude of what he was experiencing. a hint: he giggled just as much at the top of the hill as on the car ride watching baby einstein...
but this time it was going to be different. he was 2 1/2, walking (so therefore fully equipped to feel the sensation of sand between his toes), joyful, energetic and ready to go. i had my camera fired up. batteries charged. shot list in my head. this was going to be a perfect day sharing one of our favorite places, "the world's biggest sandbox," with our little boy.
when we got to the dunes, the sun was beaming. beautiful...but hot. we hiked up the hill, breathing heavy, cheeks flushed, amazed that he made it all the way up. we spent a couple minutes taking it all in, and then it was time for the photo shoot.
only by then, mr. photogenic had lost his energy. he was hot. he was distracted. in the famous words of jerry lundegaard from fargo, "he was NOT cooperating, see"...and the sun continued to beat down. i'd ask him to smile, he'd pout. i'd call his name, his lower lip would jut out further. out of 50 shots, probably 5 were usable...and, with sweat rolling down my brow, i was a majorly unhappy camper.
and then it hit me. literally hit me...some sand kicked up by a gaggle of kids running full-speed down the massive hill. they were laughing, panting, squealing with delight, with each giant step of their descent.
i looked at my little boy and i knew what i had to do. i shut the camera off. strapped it over my neck. grabbed his hand tightly.
"are you ready?"
and we took off down the hill—leaving my expectations, our projected feelings about the import of the moment, and my incomplete shot list, in the dust. at the bottom of the hill, his reaction said it all. he squeezed me as hard as he could.
"again mommy, again!"
sometimes we get so caught up in our plans. how we're going to control every aspect of a situation: a party, an event, a presentation, a relationship, a photo shoot(!)—that we forget what's most important. sure planning is good, even necessary, but sometimes circumstances won't "cooperate." at a certain point, you just have to let go. be in the moment. stop. breathe in the air. soak up the view. and come down a little more renewed than when you came.