Would you like picture of all of you?

Posted November 21st, 2011 by Jack and filed in Uncategorized

Would you like a picture of all of you?

A story with three endings.

I live in a tourist destination area, Santa Cruz, California. Folks come from miles around to visit our redwood forests and scenic beaches. I enjoy them as well, weekly or more often, with my dog and my wife. You can imagine I see my share of tourists taking pictures of their family with the ocean or other eye popping beauty in the background. Many are international tourists and will never return.

How often have you seen this scenario: Dad has the camera and lines up the family with the ocean in the background. Dad is not in the shot, he is behind the camera. Or perhaps a couple, one has the ocean in the background, the other behind the camera and then they switch positions and repeat. Someone is left out of the group and out of the picture.

As a personal practice, if I see a family, couple, or group doing the camera shuffle, I will ask, “Would you like a picture of all of you?” Most times the answer is a grateful yes, only occasionally is the answer no thanks. To this day, no one has ever been offended or rude in response to me. I don’t force the issue, merely make myself available as a small act of kindness. And I frequently has a brief and pleasant conversation about where they are from and how they like their vacation.

Ocean Beach in Carmel last spring I saw a husband and wife with an older Golden retriever dog. I am a dog owner and lover myself. They were taking turns taking pictures of one of them with the dog, first the husband kneeling and petting the dog, then the wife with her arms around the dog.

As usual, I said,“Would you like a picture of all of you?”. The husband said yes, we would love that. So I did. I took the picture of the two of them; wife with her arms around the dog, the husband kneeling and petting the dog’s head. Everyone looked so happy and happy to be together; a moment of perfection.
I walked up to them and handed back their camera. I petted the dog and noticed how old he seemed. I told them I had a dog too, back with my wife on the other end of the beach. I asked how old the dog was. The husband told me the dog was 12. Then he told me he really appreciated the picture because it was the dog’s last time to visit the beach. They were putting the dog down the next day and this was the last time the three of them would be together at the beach. I knew instantly the picture I just took for them would resonate in their lives for a long time to come.

I said earlier this story has three endings.

The first ending is about the moment of perfection for the three of them when I snapped the picture. The dog did not know it was his last time to see the beach. He was enjoying the sun and smells and the companionship of his pack (family). The family was simply grateful to be outside with their dog, doing what they had enjoyed for years together. This was truly a moment of perfection, captured by a stranger.

The second ending is the ripple effect of seemingly small actions. How was I to know this was the celebration of an all too short canine lifetime? I couldn’t know. But you can bet this couple will remember and pay it forward for some time. My small act of kindness will instill and inspire other acts of kindness I will never know about.

The third ending to the story is my favorite. Life is for the living and life goes on. I received a valuable gift that day, knowing I had a small but meaningful impact in the world. So I keep on offering to take those pictures.

Would you like a picture of all of you?

Warmly,
Jack