Emotionally Significant Moments

At least once each day, I like to have what I call an emotionally significant moment. To be clear, I have a broad definition of the phrase “emotionally significant.” For example, sometimes such a moment can be an all-out burst of tears, or it can be a simple pause in the everyday milieu of life that no one would even notice. Such moments can be happy or sad. Today, the moment came while I was filling my truck up with gas. It was late in the afternoon and the sunlight formed sharp angles from over my shoulder as I stood outside my truck waiting for the tank to fill. We had a beautiful day here in Knoxville today with warm temperatures, and I had just finished a wonderful cortado from a newly-discovered coffee shop downtown. All was right with the world.

The pump slowly filled my tank: one gallon, two gallons, three gallons. Ugh! It was taking forever! Then I realized why. This allowed me to see more ads from the marketing genius of the gas pump TV, which quickly reminded me of all the things I needed to buy inside. My favorite was the 48-ounce cherry cola for 99 cents. Seriously? Almost half a gallon of cherry cola!? Double ugh!

In the middle of this frustration, a song started playing on my radio. It was one of my favorite Christmas songs and the only instrument was a cello. For me, a solo cello comes straight from the heart. It is an instrument that is sure to move me. And it did. The first chords of the song immediately silenced gas pump TV. Even through the tinny speakers of my truck, I could hear the bow moving across the strings of the instrument. The melody transported me to a place far from where I stood. I don’t know where, but I wasn’t pumping gas anymore. I was soaring like a bird on the wings of a cello. The moment lasted for only a couple of minutes and no one around me had a clue that I was in the middle of my emotionally significant moment. It made my day. Emotionally significant moments always do that…they always make my day. I suspect you know what I mean. I hope you know what I mean.

As brief as it was, the moment was intense. I didn’t cry, but almost. I even almost accidentally pushed “yes” when the pump asked me if I wanted a car wash. I love moments like that. Over the years, I’ve learned to recognize and be open to them because emotionally significant moments happen all the time when I’m out photographing. In fact, my experiences with the camera and photography far transcend the simple making of images. The real benefit of photography for me is how I see the world without the camera. The real benefit of photography is experiencing moments like the one I had pumping gas. Those moments are when I know I’m really alive. Thanks for that, photography!!

While you ponder your emotionally significant moments, please enjoy another image from my recent trip to the Atchafalaya Basin. I can’t remember if it was a sunrise or sunset, but it doesn’t matter. It was another moment I spent learning from with my camera!



  1. It sounds to me like “emotionally significant moments” snap one back into the present moment. If caught just right, I suppose one might get a little misty, even at the gas pump. Xcellent post. I sat for a good 5 minutes honing my Thought and Focus skills over this one. Thanks for sharing!!!


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