Not sound. Not time. Not my mind.
Everything was in lock-step frame.
Only my eyes were in motion. But not real motion; scanning, perceiving, transmitting. They were only in a primal recording mode.
Time – and everything in its being – was on hold.
Three months earlier I had set out across the vast array of preserves spanning the wild back country of Botswana. I was in pursuit to find and locate the perfect bull elephant for my wall.
No. Not pursuing a dead head, with lead, but an image of pixels.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hunter and I don’t have a problem with pulling the trigger and delivering lead to a target. However, I reserve that option for animals I will personally consume. Elephant is not on my dietary list. Therefore, I personally don’t shoot them to kill them.
I neither condemn, nor condone the actions of those who do kill these beasts.
In some instances the killing of the giant beasts becomes a necessity. An unpleasant reality in our over-crowded and resource strapped world, it has become a necessary, if not unpleasant business.
Managed kills are accomplished, in many instances, by sport hunters with large wallets and a lucky draw. The economics are sound. The fees paid do bring beneficial stimulation to strapped economies and to provide funding of protective forces; Game Wardens; for numerous species occupying the killing fields.
For me, though, there is neither pleasure or purpose in killing these amazing beasts. Thus I would not participate in the killing – outside of self-defense.
My preferred wild life capture technique is through the lens of a camera. The end uses for my efforts, find themselves as varied as the subjects themselves. Mostly though, they are a record of my life experiences while leaving only historical preservation as any trace of my being there.
Whether animal or vista, each is chosen for visual consumption in the same manner. I venture into the grounds, I pursue quietly and unobtrusively. I observe and note particular habits and quirks of each environment as well as the season. All of this is done long before I partake of its riches. In the truest essence of the word, I am hunting whether it be animal or location.
Whether for myself or for my clients, I choose the hunt carefully. The KEY word here is …choose.
Two months, 26 days, 12 hours and 14 minutes later; after 12,000 plus kilometers had been tallied on the Land Rover’s odometer; and numerous blistered seat-rashes had been recorded on my butt; I was still without the photographic goal.
Oh, there were photos. By the gigabyte. They would be filling my larder of visually stimulating projects for years to come.
But, the trophy bull elephant image, was still only a dream.
That is – until 5 minutes ago.
The morning had opened with the customarily expected noise of the bush. A slight breeze and the ubiquitous hum of the insect life: good, bad and the ugly. A chined offering, conjured a raspy pied-piper allusion, floating on the breeze with the chatty voices of the birds. This day had begun like any other.
But there was a different air about it.
I sensed a moment coming. The only question was, would I be ready for – IT?
Captured moments don’t just happen. They are the result of planning and execution.
Yet, regardless of the effort put into getting into that moment, the exact timing -when it happens- is never a known commodity.
The three axioms of Moment Experience Planning are:
- You are in charge of preparing for the execution.
- You have a shot at being at or in the execution.
- But, you have no control over the timing of the execution.
Thus, in reality we are never really in control, of anything: at any time. We are only along for the ride. Learning to ride the wave of the unknown, toward -hopefully- an exhilarating conclusion we can survive.
That’s the rush. The excitement. The draw of it all.
Of course anyone can experience a moment by accident. It’s what we call, luck. Such encounters more often result in lost, rather than in captured, opportunity.
To hedge one’s odds for realizing the full impact of any potential moment, work. Every element must be brought as far as conceivably possible, toward a successful conclusion – fully expecting the moment hoped for – to execute. This is the ultimate thrill, in a moment experience.
Preparing for the moment and getting into it, is the very heart and soul of HUNTING.
Hunting, contrary to the vacuous opinions of the uneducated, is not about killing. Hunting is about properly executing on a vast array of knowledge. Any part of which, found out of order, could spell failure with little to no hope for a mulligan. All of this is necessary before any consummating opportunity to kill is presented.
It is therefore, quite possible to hunt and never kill and still have a great hunt. But, equally true, the hunter can never know the true power within the hunt, without consummating the hunt with a kill.
Misunderstood by many:
Not every hunt must end in a kill to make it a good hunt. But equally true – a human must experience the mental and spiritual challenge that is found only in the kill – at least once – to fully appreciate the value and power found in the responsibility that rests with the choice … to kill or not to kill. This is not a lesson learned intellectually.
The scene that unfolded before me, in that split-second of time, was as unplanned as any in all my life.
I had no control of – or over – the moment.
I did have control of the use in that moment.
The camera found footing on the monopod.
The lens drew its focus.
The synapse began firing in reflex mode and the hold was as smooth as any trigger hold ever executed. As in anything in life that exudes success, timing is everything. And this moment was all about timing.
When the shutter stopped firing, 14 frames of one of my most memorable experiences in life had been captured. The span of that moment-in-time, was less than 24 seconds.
The bulk of life is truly the Journey and not the Destination.
But it is the Destination, to which we look, for Journey justification and the dream of a return.
I will return.
Thus, two months, 26 days, 12 hours, 14 minutes… and 23.7 seconds later… I had my bull elephant trophy.
And so do you.
A short story by Les Booth, inspired by the eLITHOGRAPH by the same name, Sankalai.
The audio is read by Jake Thibodeaux – https://soundcloud.com/user-722655248/sankalai