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If You Want to Practice Mindfulness and Letting Go of Expectations, Try Shooting a Timelapse

I recently filmed a timelapse of the sunrise and I never felt more present.

Indeed, taking the time to watch and enjoy a sunrise alone is the epitome of mindfulness. But I discovered that shooting a timelapse on top of that adds a level of patience and hyper-focus that, I believe, heightens the experience.

Never before had I observed so closely the gradual changes in light or the movement of clouds. My constant adjustments to the exposure made me intimately aware of how slowly or quickly the atmosphere illuminated at different phases.

I also watched the changing sky with an unprecedented sense of excitement. As clouds formed magnificent shapes and rays of sunlight pierced through their openings, I delighted in how my next shot might turn out.

And yet, because I had predefined the parameters of each shot (one every 60 seconds), I had relinquished control over which frame of time would be captured. Moreover, I risked the likely possibility that not a single weather event would arrive to decorate the sky (and timelapses are relatively dull without constant changes in the scenery to indicate the passage of time).

But I had taken the effort to bring my camera out there and so committed myself to the next 5-6 hours at minimum (any less and not only would I miss the full range of transformation from day to night, but the resulting video would be so short as to end in an unsatisfying flash).

Ultimately, I learned that, like all things in life, it’s not the final product that matters so much as the process. I thought I had set out to create a cool video, but what I really did was get my ass out of bed at 4:30am…to closely watch the full sunrise from complete darkness, to gradations of magenta and orange, to the fiery sphere itself, to the bright blue sky…with no rush to leave.

I’ve orbited that thing 38 times to date, yet somehow this was the first time I offered her my full attention. But not the last.