As you know, I take a lot of photos of things and experiences as part of my appreciation of them. I enjoy sharing them as a way of sharing the joy that they brought me, and to inspire others to have similar experiences or to invite them to share their own joyful moments. It's a way I enjoy connecting with community and the world around me.
As much as I enjoy doing this, the act of taking a photo, or sharing on social media, it does take me out of the present moment, impacting the depth at which I am appreciating the moment for the fleeting beauty it holds. It is a choice I make each time I do it. Sometimes it's worth it, other times I wished I had been more present and simply put the phone down to appreciate the moment for what it was, fully embracing the experience. The other night I had one such moment of the latter description.
Eyes Wide Open for a Sunset Worth NOT Taking Photos Of
At the beginning of the February, Sean, our friend and former housemate of 10 years, moved out of his room on the second floor. Since then we have been fixing it up so we can use it as a secondary office/spare room, but we hadn't yet begun to use and appreciate it.
Yesterday, Sean came over to make and share dinner with us, and to hang out for the evening. While we were sitting down at the table, I noticed a pink light coming in from the other side of the house. Curious, I got up without saying a word and walked toward it, leaving Chris and Sean sitting at the table, baffled in my wake. When I got to the window, I could see the sky was lit up with a beautiful pinkish hue from the setting sun, but had trouble taking it all in from the lower level main floor window. Then I remembered that Sean's old room had a better vantage point for a more expansive view.
I ran up to the second floor and looked out and was awestruck with the sight I saw. I called to Chris and Sean to come up and join me and appreciate the view. The cityscape was backlit with clouds lit up yellow by the sun with a deep pink sky behind it, along with blended blues and faint purples. We could see city lights and traffic lights dotting all the roads of New West across the river from our Surrey home. The Patullo Bridge and the skytrain bridge also frame the horizon, adding layers to the view. We all drank in the view with our eyes, appreciating all the little details we were seeing as we did, fully present in the moment.
Not one of us picked up our phones in doing so. We were all so captivated by the moment.
Choosing to Stay Present for the More Valuable Experience of Connection
There was a brief moment when I thought about taking a photo, but it was more of a wistful dismissal of the notion. I knew that if I tried to capture it with my camera phone, it was be a nothing but a dim representation of a moment that simply could not be captured by that medium, and doing so would take me out of the presence of appreciating it fully, a sacrifice I decided was not worth making.
It wasn't just appreciating sunset that was so important in that moment. It was also being present with the people with whom I was sharing it. That moment also felt like we were closing a chapter of our lives together. We had all lived together for nearly 10 years, and had become more than close friends over that time. Sean is family to us after all we had been through in those years, and that moment where we were all together, appreciating the beauty of a sunset from his old room, together in our home, was an experience I'll never forget. It is a moment that is now seared in my memory, cementing all the good times we have shared together in our home in a single experience of a sunset, a fleeting beautiful moment representing the connection, camaraderie and love that we share.
When I Choose to Take the Photo
More often than not, I choose to take the photo, but there is a logic to the choice when I do. Usually it's because I don't feel that it would disrupt my enjoyment of the moment, whether it's because there's plenty of time to do both, because it wouldn't interrupt whatever social connection that might be part of it, or perhaps photographing it will even enhance my enjoyment as it sometimes does because I enjoy the artistry of photography or simply want to have photos for a blog post that I am writing about the experience.
Connection is Key
The relationship connection is probably the most important element that might cause me to not reach for my phone. Sharing a moment without disruption is a gift to both me and whoever is with me. It allows me to enjoy and appreciate my relationship with that person as it expresses itself in that moment, while giving that person the gift of my attention, showing them how important they are to me that I choose to be there with them in that moment.
Do you sometimes actively choose to keep your phone in your pocket so you can be present and appreciate a moment? What are your reasons for doing so or not doing so? Do you see yourself wanting to make any changes to whatever habits you have? Please share your thoughts in the comments as I always appreciate hearing different perspectives on topics like this.