It’s 6 a.m. on the third day of my marriage, and I drift awake to the ear-buzzing silence of the deep forest and my new wife’s soft breathing. Slipping off the quilt I shoulder two cameras and step into the chilly pre-dawn. A soft breeze pushes low fog across the surface of the lake, but the dock is dry. Perfect conditions for what I have planned – half photographic experiment, half personal yogic challenge: Can I practice yoga so slow that I appear “normal” while the world timelapses around me?
I calculate where the sun will rise, program the cameras to fire every two seconds, and assume my position at the end of the dock.
One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Click. One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Click.
I am moving in fractions. A normal Cat-Cow lasts about four seconds. Multiply that by 30 frames per second (a standard timelapse frame rate) multiplied by another two to account for the shutter frequency and I must stretch each Cat-Cow to four minutes (4 x 30 x 2 = 240 sec.) in order to achieve a “normal” Cat-Cow on film.
One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Click. Spine depresses half an inch. One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Click. Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
A mosquito finds me. A few friends join him. An entire legion attacks. I am the hot egg sandwich and frying bacon to their morning. And I have a choice: I can call it off – lose the footage, the opportunity, and the argument for why I needed to bring an extra suitcase for camera gear on the honeymoon – or I could roll with it, yogi style.
And so I settle down to move in fractions and meditate on small biting insects. Indeed, mosquitoes are a fantastic metaphor for the mind’s penchant to prick itself into unhappiness. When a hike is as beautiful as can be, mosquitoes are always there to be that “one thing” you could complain about (and there’s always that “one thing”). When it’s pouring rain and you’re camping in a mud puddle, mosquitoes are there to make things that much worse (and there’s always ways to make something “that much worse”).
You can begrudge every swat, or you can accept that nothing will ever be perfect, and maybe make a few of the suckers pay for your blood.
And if for some reason you can’t swat ‘em, at least the footage will be good.
Author’s note: All photography performed during honeymoon hours was done with the express consent of my wife. That’s a lesson I didn’t need mosquitoes to teach me.