Never underestimate the value of being carefree / by Hilary Hann

Something happened just the other day that really made me think. I was on an assignment on Kangaroo Island at a place called Little Sahara, named because of the lofty sand dunes that grace the property. The dunes are only a very small part of what is a truly magnificent wilderness area that goes down to the rugged coast overlooking the Southern Ocean. I was obviously in working mode, seriously assessing each and every photograph that I shot, concentrating on the job at hand and not ‘in the moment’ at all.

“I’m fighting nature’s idea of suitable light (which to my mind was anything but) excessive wind and sand. My tripod is listing to one side, mocking my efforts to get a straight horizon which at this moment has become a much over rated necessity of landscape photography, I might add. To add insult to injury, I find myself slowly sliding down the dune with one foot until I land face first in the sand.

Breaking through my swear words comes the sounds of joyous male voices coming closer to where I’m struggling to my feet. Before long, eight fit young men run past me, huffing and puffing at the effort of leaping up a sand dune but extravagantly happy nonetheless. Their laughter contagious, I begin to smile. They disappear briefly before I see them clambering to the top of the farthest dune. As they slide down the dune, their voices carry towards me and I can’t help but wonder if I ever sounded so carefree and happy. Memories flood back to a brief time when a younger me held her future in her hands with so many opportunities for a life well lived ahead of her. But those times aren’t accompanied by carefree memories, rather by anxiety and worry. What a waste. Now it’s too late to ever feel that sense of joyous and carefree freedom, emotions that are particularly suitable to the young who stand on the very edge of adulthood and endless responsibility. How I would like to have memories banked of what that would feel like.

The young men are far distanced now from where I stand, but their infectious laughter has broken through my reverie and I return to my camera and tripod (still listing dangerously) with renewed vigour and surprisingly, new inspiration.”

Thanks to those young men, I walked back from the dunes with some interesting photos that I may not have taken. They made my mood lighter. They made me happy and made me pause for a while to be ‘in the moment’, enjoying the beauty that surrounded me.

Embrace your silly side, laugh whenever you can, wrap your heart around the people and things that make you happy and live well this precious life.

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