“We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.” -Henri Cartier-Bresson
One of the great teachings of life is impermanence, the unstoppable flow of experience we call time and change. In time, tomatoes ripen, children grow up, and we know that every relationship we have will end. How we long to escape death and elude loss…When we’re happy, we don’t even want to think about it, we want to slip away from the inexorable embrace of time. When we’re sad, impermanence is our friend. We know that the way things are is not how they will always be.
Mindfulness works in a flash, like photography. When we click a photo or take a screenshot of a friend’s disappearing Snapchat, the cascading forms of constant perception stop for a moment, a moment that means something to us. In any instant of mindfulness, a flash of presence can calm us down. We return to our senses, opening up to receive the intensity of aliveness, the vividness of how life feels here and now – capturing the memory for someday, there and then, when that part of our life is gone.
Try it now. Just by taking a mindful breath in, you can slow into this moment. Then, breathing out consciously — all the way to the fleeting pause at the end of the exhalation — you stop the timestream for just one or two heartbeats, pausing for a screenshot of stillness. To do this is to curate time. “Curator” is the Latin word for caretaker. By being mindful we are curating time, taking care of the vanishing moments of our life. We can’t bring them back, but we can mindfully, lovingly curate the time we do have here.
Credit to Clayton Cubitt for his take on photography: “It is the creation of art through the curation of time.”