How many times have we heard this phrase or similar ones – Live in the Moment – Be Present – Make Memories? All of these phrases are meant to remind us not to let Life Pass Us By (another catch-phrase) – and I would dare to say that most of us feel that we are achieving those very sentiments. We are going new places, seeing new things, going to our children’s sporting events and concerts – we are definitely a busy society – so busy, we keep very detailed calendars so we don’t lose track of anything or miss anything. In fact, we even have a set of letters to symbolize a very deep fear for a lot of us – FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. So, we add more things to our calendars to keep us busy, to live in the moment, to experience life so life doesn’t pass us by.
Through all of this, to prove that we are doing all of these wonderful, exciting, memorable things, we are taking pictures or videos with fancy equipment or even with just our very high-quality phones. We sit in the audience during our daughter’s dance recital and hold our phone high to video the entire performance – and watch her through the phone or lens. We don’t worry about blocking anyone’s view – because everyone is pretty much doing the same thing – just moving their phones around so they can get a good shot. We stand on the sideline of our child’s baseball game and when they come up to bat, we start the cameras rolling, watching the scene unfold through our camera lens – even following the child as they run the bases – holding steady the phone so we get a good video. We watch our children or pets play in the new-fallen snow through the lens of our cellphone trying to catch all the fun they are having so we can post it to Facebook or Twitter and get as many ‘likes’ as possible.
Is this really experiencing the moment? Is this really being present? Are we really making memories or having we just become recorders of someone else’s life? Are we letting life pass us by because we are too busy getting the perfect photo or video? Have we let our phones/cameras become a barrier between the us and the actual experience? Are we so busy taking the picture that we are no longer a part of the picture?
Over the past couple of years, I have tried to spend less time taking the picture and more time being a part of the picture. Instead of just taking pictures of the beautiful scenery, I put the camera down and actually look at the scenery, smell the fresh air and experience the moment. Instead of recording the kids playing in the snow, I take a quick snapshot and then put down the camera and join in – making myself a part of their memories and experience of the moment.
I’m not saying we should stop recording our lives – but we also need to be a part of our lives. I challenge you to care less about what shows up on Facebook or in the bowels of your cellphone photo albums – and actually be a participant in the lives of those around you. You will be surprised how different your child looks during her dance recital when actually seen with your eyes and not through the camera – and the best part is that she can see YOUR face light up with joy and pride because your camera isn’t hiding it. Instead of recording the swings at bat – put those hands to good use clapping and cheering for your child as they do their best. Instead of getting the perfect video for Facebook of the snowball fight between your children, use your hands to make some good snowballs of your own and be happy with the ‘likes’ you receive from those you love.
Although they say a picture is worth a thousand words – but you won’t have any of those words if you don’t actually experience the moment.