When I was an intern back in college, I worked at manufacturing plant that made plastic bumpers and fuel tanks. It was a greasy, chaotic mess full of lessons about how not to live your life. The extruding machines were sometimes left unattended so long that the engineers had an electric chainsaw in the office, just in case they had to cut apart a hunk of plastic on the floor that was too big to move. And they once had to evacuate the plant after someone decided to celebrate 4th of July… with fireworks… inside a plastics plant. There was this older guy in that crazy plant who was so surly that I assumed he wouldn’t have much to teach me about life. One day, he said to me, “Greg, there are three phases in life: childhood, your working years, and retirement. Never be in a rush to get to the next phase, just enjoy the one you’re in.” And that lesson has stuck with me ever since.
When I look at photos taken with a long-exposure, I sometimes think back to that lesson. You get an almost poetic sense of just how much of our world is constantly in motion. Not just all of us “busy” people, but everything is changing all the time. Take this photo of downtown St Paul, MN for example. The clouds and water are blurred out after only 30 seconds or so. And of course, that beautiful peach sunrise will be gone in a couple minutes, and so will the street lights. Now that it’s winter, the boats are gone and green leaves have been replaced with brown tree branches and white snow. There’s only a tiny sliver of concrete and glass that would look the same right now. And of course, that really hasn’t been here all that long in the grand scheme of things. I’m often excited about the future, but I also try to remind myself to just enjoy the moment.