The tulips, with their bright green stems and hues of orange and yellow, much like the flaming shades that emanate in the intimate dance of the rising sun and the dawn sky, beckon me, as I pass by the array of fresh florals at the grocery store.
My eyes transfixed, I cannot help but pick up a bunch, an item not on my shopping list, to bring home. I place them in a glass vase, their abode in my hearth for the transient time that they will live.
I cannot look away.
What a marvel of nature! Every petal, every leaf, every stem flawlessly created in a few, simple strokes with ease by the greatest artist that lives.
Resplendence that deserves to be shared and I, in the only way as is the case these days, bring out my iPhone to capture their beauty, silently relieved that the photo, timeless as it will be, will hold onto the splendor for me and defy the truth that everything is impermanent. Fortunately, in this age, with our phones we possess the magical ability to freeze moments in time.
I place the vase on my kitchen island. “Amma will love this,” I think, “so will my friends,” as I zoom in and out through the camera lens. What I see through the lens though does not appeal. Perhaps, the picture needs more light? I turn on the fancy yellow lights hanging over the island. Still not good enough.
I move the vase around and it turns out the lighting at a particular position on the island is ideal. I take the photo “Ugh! Parts of the kitchen sink and the blue bottle of Dawn have made an appearance in the frame, so has the refrigerator. Thank God for the edit feature on the phone.” Editing the unnecessary elements from the photo deletes part of the tulip bunch. Not the capture I desire. So, I move the vase over to the dining table, gather the art supplies, books and mail strewn around to pile them up neatly in a corner.
No one can know the mess that is my house and my life. Many varying positions of the vase and many clicks later I am still unsatisfied. But I am also tired, so I pick the one that I think is the best, crop, add filters and finally hit send. What everyone sees is only a part of the whole, just the cream that floats. The sliver of perfection in my life, with the large parts of the clutter, the imperfection, hidden.
And so, it is with most of the photos we take, not the candid ones, but the majority. They reflect pieces of us.
Matte or gloss, black and white or color, we romance the one seeing, seduce the world into believing the oasis is the desert. We struggle to accept the duality of life. There is no joy without grief, no birth without death, no squeaky clean without clutter. Yet, we believe one is good, the other bad so we go to great lengths to cover up what we deem bad even though it is precisely in those earth-shattering moments of anguish when we dredge within to excavate our strengths and grow.
If our lives like our pictures were perfect, we would stagnate.
I go back to the first click, with the beauty of the tulips in the foreground and the refrigerator and blue Dawn bottle in the background. It captures beauty emerging from a swamp of disarray. It is my life just as it is.