Photo by hotblackToday was the mildest day we’ve had in a long time. And while a few mounds of snow still bear witness to recent blizzards, it’s clear that spring has started flirting with us.

Walking along the local park trail, I noticed snowdrops and crocuses in full bloom that weren’t there even a week ago. And I was stuck by a sudden desire to dig some up and take them home with me.

What is it that makes us want to possess something as fleeting as beauty? I suspect that it’s not really the object itself we desire but rather our experience of its beauty that we wish to sustain.

There was nothing stopping me from simply enjoying the flowers in that moment, both for their physical splendor and as harbingers of approaching spring. They’re close enough to where I live that I can visit them multiple times while they’re in bloom. And their presence on the trail means that numerous other people can enjoy them as well. But something inside of me wanted to make them mine.

It’s like some people who focus so much on photography that they’ll say, “Ooh! What a beautiful sunset! I wish I had my camera!” What’s wrong with taking in the sunset right then and there? Why not simply experience it, letting it wash over and through you?

Now, I’m no stranger to a camera. But I can’t help but feeling that, if unexamined, such perspectives can distance us from experiencing a given moment in time.

There are merits to more enduring forms of beauty, of course. And I’ve been impressed with individual owners of great works of art who consider themselves to be stewards of a particular piece, knowing that anything of significant artistic and cultural value transcends the concept of ownership.

Yet we are really only given mere moments in which to experience beauty. To think that we can own it or halt the effect of time on it is merely illusion.

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