Every evening, as the sun begins to set, I stand and walk over to the window to shut the blinds.

I’ve been doing this for years. It’s no more a ritual than brushing my teeth or taking a shower. The action has become a habit I don’t think about anymore. At a certain time in the day, depending on the sun’s position in the sky and the season, sunshine streams into the room unimpeded, warming the space beyond what I consider comfortable. If I don’t close the blind before the room reaches 80 degrees in temperature, I can expect an evening stewing in South Florida heat while I read or watch television.

Normally, when I shut the blinds, I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing. I’m usually doing two or three things at the same time: reading a book, chatting with a friend, figuring out a crossword clue, writing in my journal, watching a pack of tigers take down a drone, or trying to decide what to have for dinner. It’s not rocket science, and not something I waste time thinking about.

Unless sunlight hits the blinds a certain way, the reflection catches and flares on my glasses, and makes me pay attention. That’s when I notice a visual Yin and Yang of light and shadow that makes me pause and wonder how I never noticed this before. Seen, yes; notice not until now. So I pause, tilt my head to the right, then to the left, decide that this is something I want to keep and remember later because the light will never be the same again, nor my way of seeing. It won’t matter how hard or how many times I try to conjure the same image: if I don’t capture it now, it will be gone. Forever.

And that’s just how things are: fleeting, vanishing, elusive. If we don’t pay attention, we miss other sunsets casting light against shadows, each a different take on nature’s artistry and genius.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography.