“How shall I live now,” the poet Kaveh Akbar asks, “in the unexpected present?”

That line is from a lovely, sad poem Against Dying. You should read it some day, but right now just concentrate on that line. How shall I live now in the unexpected present? It’s a pretty elastic question; it can be twisted and stretched to fit any circumstance in anybody’s life.

For a photographer, living in the unexpected present is to move through the world always receptive to surprise and delight.  A shift in the light, the frown of an old man in a red hat, the way an old dog leans against its owner, the way snow settled in a planter, a plastic chair suspended in the air between a wall and a pillar.

These aren’t meaningful events — at least not on any sort of scale. But the combined weight of all these experiences is enough to shape a life. And when you are old and somebody asks if you’ve had a good life, you may not remember that specific shift in the light or that old man and his red hat or the inexplicably suspended chair, but you’ll be able to nod.

How shall I live now in the unexpected present? Live it open to the unsought, the unplanned, the unintended moment.


Blog photograph copyrighted to the photographer and used with permission by utata.org. All photographs used on utata.org are stored on flickr.com and are obtained via the flickr API. Text is copyrighted to the author, greg fallis and is used with permission by utata.org. Please see Show and Share Your Work