In my last post I told you about my holiday. While I was on holiday, I took many photos. I love taking photos.
Jon is not so enthusiastic about my photography. He likes the end results but not so much the process.
(I know I look like a wraith in this shot – it’s just the angle, honest. I think Jon looks like the children’s TV character Pob, if you remember him. Also – I am not naked, just to clarify.)
So – here is a snapshot (if you’ll pardon the pun) of our interaction on holiday. Jon had just delivered me on my sunbed, together with water, suncream, wrap, Kindle – and son.
“But the camera – would you be able to go back and get it?”
Jon scowled. He had been up since 6.30am entertaining a toddler while I had slept.
“I think you can do without the camera for once. Can’t you just enjoy things as they happen, make the most of the moment?”
I pouted. “But that IS me making the most of the moment. For me, recording is the enjoying.”
I could tell Jon thought I was a little bit weird. Perhaps it is weird. I know that everyone says we should ‘live in the moment’, experience everything fully without thinking about what it means or how to record it.
In a previous post I mentioned Donald Miller’s book on living our life as story. It has got me thinking a lot about story and how we bring meaning to our life.
It is a human instinct to want to shape our existence. Although we just float from one experience to another like a seed drifting in the wind, we don’t think like this. We shape, we structure, we punctuate. Our stories have beginnings, middles, endings, patterns, structures. We reflect on our experience, we frame it into art or story. We write poems, we take photos. We think of how we could summarise it in 140 characters or a Facebook status. Life is not just for living, it is for telling.
And I really enjoy the telling. For me, it makes the living more alive.
I have many more memories of my childhood and teenage years than Jon has. I can remember distinct events and feelings, whereas his formative years are a vague blur. He tends to identify memories through photos that have been taken.
I think this is because I kept a diary (journal) for many years. The years that I kept the diary are the clearest ones in my mind. I capture memories and treasure them up in my heart.
So I watched my boy splashing in the pool with Jon. For days he had protested at being in the pool, not liking the feeling of not being able to touch the floor. Now he was in a big rubber ring, in his Dad’s arms, pretending it was a boat. His face lit up with delight, and his joy spilled over to me. It was a magical moment, just begging to be captured for posterity.
AND I DIDN’T HAVE MY CAMERA.
This would have been where I would have ended this post, had it not been for a conversation I had subsequently with Jon. I had smugly outlined why the unexamined life was not worth living. So what was his objection to it?
“There is a big difference between writing a journal after an event and taking photos or tweeting while the event is happening. The trouble is,” he explained, “you think you are enjoying this great story, and your view is the one through the camera, where you can see us clearly. Unfortunately, our view of you is this” – and he held up the camera to his face.
I suddenly got what he meant. He had disappeared behind the camera. I felt immediately disconnected from him, and more like I was an actor who needed to perform rather than a friend sharing a moment.
If you are tweeting or taking photos throughout a meeting or conversation, there’s a good chance that you will feel it is enhnancing your experience, as you are able to be both participant and producer. But as soon as you become producer, you distance yourself from others there.
I like being the audience, the writer, the director – but I need to be careful that my recording does not distance me from others. Begrudgingly, I admit that the ‘live life in the moment’ brigade may yet have a point.
Next holiday I shall limit myself to a mere 300 photos. Promise.
Over to you:
- Are you a ‘live in the moment’ person or ‘life is for the telling’ person?