Just about this time last year, I began turning over a thought in my mind. It was just a passing thing at first, but the more it kept making an appearance in my mind, the more I began to see it in real life.
We’re living for the photograph instead of photographing the living. By that I mean to say that instead of taking a picture of real, normal, ordinary life – living first and foremost and then capturing that moment – we instead pose and filter and arrange and make moments happen so that they can be photographed.
The picture has become more important than the moment.
We go to games and concerts and shows and instead of sitting in the joy of the moment, feeling the sun beat down or the rain falling, listening to music and feeling moved to tears by the performance, we’re distracted by the phone in our hands and the angle with the best light.
When did what we capture become more important than the moment itself? Listen, I’m all for capturing the moment. Anyone who knows me will say that I am almost always the one to ask for one more picture, to snap a quick photo so I don’t forget the moment. But for me, that’s the point. I live in the moment so thoroughly and completely that a picture becomes a reminder, not the purpose of it all.
If I look through old pictures on my phone, I’m not just seeing faces or artwork or the way the sunlight hit the leaves blowing in the wind. Instead, I’m right back where it happened. I can feel the sun beating down or hear the laughter in the air as I remember the joke that brought about the candid grins and crinkled eyes.
You will never be able to convince me to stop taking pictures or to quit snapping a photo to document a moment. But I won’t do it at the expense of living in the moment, and that’s the lesson I’ve been learning through it all.
I have found that my mind works like a camera, my eyes freezing a moment in time when I pause, notice, and blink. I’ve got one billion photographs stored in my memory that I can pull out and thumb through like a rolodex, but you won’t find those pictures on social media.
They’re simply moments frozen in time.
Hands stuffed in pockets, cold, shuffling feet hurrying to class, rosy cheeks and laments about how every 8am class should come with a good cup of coffee.
Criss-cross on the couch, with her just a few feet away. Quiet and tapping keys, both chasing our dreams in the most simple act of showing up and doing the next right thing.
Handing over my phone, slipping off my shoes, and looking fear in the face as I take one step and then another, while hearing the ones I love saying “You’ve got this, you’re almost there, keep going.”
An empty loft above a bustling coffee shop, white curtains moving in the wind as I take a deep breath and whisper a quiet “here we go, God.”
These moments will never hit your Instagram feed or Twitter stream. But they’re with me forever, stuck inside because as I chose to live, I remembered to blink, to capture and engrain it all – the sights, the sounds, the feel of the pen in my hand or the cold wind hitting my face.
Take one million pictures. Dude, go ahead. I’m so down with that. But never at the expense of living the moment you’re capturing.
I saw something on Huffington Post recently that really struck me. In a sea of people who are desperately waiting and trying to get a good picture, a cute little woman stood there simply taking in the moment. She didn’t pull out a phone. She wasn’t clamoring for a signature or the best lighting. She just watched. She observed life. And she lived it.
We can live in the memories later, but we need to live in the moment first.