Wednesday, June 08, 2011 • 1:55 PM Comments (5)

At the Start to Strawberry Season...

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

We walk. A lot. As such, we are careful pedestrians. Across the main drag, we routinely wait until cars going both directions have stopped for us. This morning, we did that and another car took a left-hand turn right into us, speeding up rather than halting as the vehicle rounded its way toward the crosswalk. The car nicked Remy.

He is fine. FINE, thankfully, fine!

The driver—a friend—was beyond upset, quite obviously. The three of us, driver, gently nicked boy, and his mama were all very shaken (in fact, writing this, I begin shaking again). We hugged. We took some deep breaths. We felt extremely fortunate that the whole thing was scary but walk-away-from scary not change-everything-on-a-dime scary.

All morning, whenever I flashed back to the incident—so brief, so indelible—I kept wondering what the message might be. I mean; mistakes are inevitable in life. Accidents happen. We cannot be in complete control of how everything goes. At moments like those, we wish with every fiber of our beings that we could. Why? Because the what if is so terrifying.

Or, we could return to the gratitude. How glad was I that Remy did not get hurt? How glad that we were all okay and hugging moments later? Each time I mulled the incident, I kept returning to that overriding sense of good fortune.

**

Just this week, I read a piece of parenting advice that was so simple and so basic and so invaluable: before you speak, take a breath.

**

When you think about it, these two things—the gratitude, the breath—are entwined constantly, so much so that you can’t really have one without the other. For all my hurrying, for the compelling push to move farther faster harder, the truth is that simultaneously, when I slow down—even by a breath—my life is happier. I feel glad to notice whatever it is I allow myself to breathe in.

I think that’s why I’ve become more enamored recently about taking photographs. You have to be still, just momentarily, to see. That pause, that breath, the chance to look with intention, is very grounding. The way that holding a small baby is grounding. The way that tasting the first local strawberry is sweeter, for letting yourself enjoy its crimson juice over your tongue.

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I paused this afternoon to serve as witness to an auto crash. A man in a SUV ran a red light while turned around looking at his dog in the back seat. Again, no personal injuries, though the woman's car was not driveable. Not the shaking like it was my own child unprotected in front of a vehicle, but even though I was just a witness, it left me shaking. And grateful.

I find that photography has to be balanced. It helps me see. SEE. And simultaniously distances me from experience. I want both. Seeing and experiencing.

And escape from catasrophe.

Phew.

Strawberries, too!

Posted by Penny Geis on 6.8.11 at 15:49

Wow, Sarah! I'm so glad you are all okay. That would shake me to the core.

Posted by gina on 6.8.11 at 16:00

saw it happen Sarah. couldn't figure out what was going on, but everyone seemed fine...

Posted by Philip Cote on 6.8.11 at 21:57

I just love this post and it is so RIGHT ON CORRECT! Slow down, pause, deep breath...everything is better...despite that push forward and forward, a little faster and faster...the photographs are the perfect analogy...let's just stop that time for a split second.

A 14 year old girl was left by the side of the road by a hit and run this morning. Life is simply so fragile. Give everyone a hug, deep breath...and look towards the next moment.

Posted by Caroline on 6.9.11 at 9:15

I am so so glad that you guys are safe. I'm so sorry that it happened...you guys are probably still processing everything. I'm sending warm, protective thoughts.

Posted by Meredith on 6.9.11 at 9:41
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