This is my favourite spot in Canmore. I come and sit here for a while every time I’m staying in town. I’ve posted a variation of this picture on social media many times over the years (this edited on my phone, where it looks much more saturated than on my old laptop!).
I came here one morning last week to take in the view. I approached this edge and just as a trio of ducks (mergansers, according to my bird identification app) paddled into view. All three slipped under the water to feed. The water of the Bow River is crystal clear so I was able to see them swimming along the bottom pecking away among the rocks there. That was a cool moment. (“Cool” isn’t quite the right word, but “holy” might be too much?)
I sat on a bench among the trees and soon found myself fidgeting, getting on my phone to check out the satellite view and the local trails. I got up to walk back into town, but I didn’t feel right walking away without taking in the scene fully, with focus and without distraction. I felt the need to absorb it all, to take it all in deeply, so I decided it would be good for me to sit back down, put my phone away, and for ten minutes just watch and breathe in the mountain air. So that’s what I did.
As I sat there, I thought about what it means to really take in the kind of beauty in front of me. I often have the feeling when I’m leaving a beautiful place that I didn’t give it enough time or attention and want to give it one more long look. But what would be enough time and attention to feel like I’ve really taken it in?
And then it dawned on me: I will never feel like I’ve given the beauty of the world enough time and attention. That’s the nature of beauty: there’s always more to gaze at, to notice and feel, so I’ll never feel like I’ve done it justice. Instead, I will need to return to it again and again to be reminded of the splendour of creation, to take in a little more, to see it change and grow, to wonder again and again.*
Then I got up and walked back into town, and I was okay with that.
*It struck me later that this same principle applies to all good things in life, like food or sex or work.