Check out this photo by John Blanding (The Boston Globe via Getty Images). Or, better yet, what is your answer when the Huffington Post article asks, “Can you spot the best part of this photo?”?
The crowd is awaiting the arrival of the stars at a movie premiere, jockeying for position with smart phones raised…save one woman. And she looks more content than anyone. Less stressed. This is pure enjoyment, fully present in the moment.
What a painfully accurate portrait of our society. And I freely admit to being a contributor to the collective problem.
Funny, but I was thinking about this quite a bit before I saw this article. During our drive to Chicago this weekend, the landscape was enveloped in a haze of early morning fog, creating a gorgeous scene. But at 70+ miles per hour, there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. “Argh, I wish I could get a photo,” I mused. Tanner shrugged and said, “You can just snap a photo in your mind.”
Create a memory and NOT a photograph? Well, there’s a thought. Startling, in fact. Suddenly I wondered: are we diminishing the joy of our experiences because of the pressure we put upon ourselves to document them perfectly?
During the marathon, I saw a couple trying to run and take a photo of themselves with a selfie stick (without stopping) within the first two or three miles. I thought about what Tanner said. Will this enhance their memory of the race? I’m not sure. But I can’t judge; I took a few photos, too. And I love them. But I have to admit that there are some snapshots that I took with my mind that I love just as much. I didn’t get out my camera as the route took us by the assisted living high-rise where the elderly residents were waving from the window. I didn’t get a snap of the lovely old woman in a wheelchair who gave me a high-five and hug when I stopped briefly across the street from that same high-rise. I didn’t get a picture of the cutest bulldog puppy on the planet that wriggled and huffed at all of the hubbub around Mile 4. Or the teeny, tiny little girl who toddled out onto the course when she spotted her mother and tried to run with her around Mile 16. But I’d like to think that these memories will be in my mental album when I look back at this race.
Then again, who knows? Memories fade. How many times have I looked back over my blog archives with utter gratitude because of the memories my photos bring flooding back? I guess the solution going forward (for me, anyway) is to be more mindful, respectful, and deliberative when selecting photo opportunities — and have more reverence for the moment at hand. Because my goal in life is to wear that woman’s expression — both in the moment and at that point in the future when the moment is a memory.