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On Capturing Moments

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If we have a memorable experience in the age of smart phones and social media and don’t digitally capture and share it, did it really happen?

I bought a motorcycle on Vancouver Island over the weekend, and after supper tonight on a gorgeous west coast summer evening I was itching to go for a ride.  My daughter and I geared up, hopped on the bike and were off.  We meandered around the streets of North Vancouver for a bit, before winding our way over to the Lions Gate Bridge.  The view was truly breathtaking—the sun setting over the ocean to the west, the magnificent Vancouver skyline to the east.  It was everything I could do to focus on the task of riding.  Indeed, before we crossed the bridge, I turned around and said to my daughter, “you’re going to have to enjoy this view for both of us—I have to keep my eyes on the road!”

We made our way into Stanley Park and found a spot to park near the beach.  After wandering down to the beach, we pulled off our helmets and just sat looking out over the water as the cyclists and joggers whirred by.  “What a night, eh?”  I said.  “Yeah…” came the murmured response.  I looked back out at the water and instinctively reached for my phone to take a picture.  I had in mind a shot of the two of us, arms around each other with the sun setting over the water behind us.  It would be breathtaking.

Only, I had forgotten my phone.  I had forgotten my phone!  The horror!

I was annoyed.  And then, mostly just embarrassed at my reaction to not being able to capture the moment.  “This is what it’s come to,” I thought.  “Barely capable of simply enjoying an experience without seeking to somehow commodify it or use it to bolster an online persona.  Barely able to just be without greedily snapping photos.  Barely present enough in the moment to, well, just enjoy the moment.”  “How drearily symptomatic of the digital waters we swim in as a culture,” I thought.  Always distracted, always pointing, clicking, sharing, uploading… always staring at down at our screens instead of lifting our gaze.

Sigh.

I looked back out at the water and then over at my girl.  She was smiling.  I smiled too, drinking in the beauty of the surroundings and of the time spent with my daughter.  We hopped back on the bike and made our way out of Stanley Park, through the hustle and bustle of a vibrant downtown Vancouver night, and back on to the bridge.  Like the first time, it was magnificent.  The sun, the sea, the skyline, the mountains up ahead.  Stunning.

I have no pictures to prove it.  You’ll have to take my word for it.

——

The image above was not taken on my ride tonight, but last night on the ferry ride to bring the aforementioned motorcycle over the mainland.    It is a poor representation of the original indeed! :).  And after taking it, I just stood and stared.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I know the feeling … but also the truth that not everything has to be captured, contained, recorded. Some of the best stories are those shared and told between intimates that can’t ever be shared publicly, right? Thanks.

    July 30, 2013
  2. mike #

    Beautiful.

    Your experience is the perfect example of the vibrant intensity we feel when being fully aware and present in the moment. I have never been able to retain the essence of a ‘present moment’ on film, it’s gone before I can press the button.

    July 30, 2013
  3. And that’s why I’ve quit bringing the camera everywhere we go. 🙂 I’ve found in the past that I often miss the moment when I’m viewing those special moments on a digital screen. And now you have a blogpost to remind you of that special moment.

    July 30, 2013

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