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Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Living In The Moment Instead Of Capturing It

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on May 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm

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Life lessons can be found in unlikely places if you are open to learning them.  As a modern-day parent, armed with the requisite equipment (smartphone, digital camera, camcorder), I am always at the ready to capture every “important” moment, in addition to others that wouldn’t fit into the aforementioned category.  At least I was until recently, when I had an epiphany spurred on by Louis C.K.’s stand-up comedy routine.

We tend to look at any celebrity in a different light, but when it comes down to it, Louis C.K. is my peer.  We both have two kids, are close in age and spend enough time on social media to be able to appreciate the absurdity that often takes place in the medium, Facebook in particular.

If I revealed that I had discovered a way to experience life’s moments in incomparable HD-quality, many of you would immediately start Googling for reviews to see what others thought.  The bad news is that you wouldn’t find the information that you’re looking for, but the good news is that there is no cost and you can start experiencing this incomparable HD-quality immediately.  This sounds too good to be true, so there must be a catch, right?  Yes, there is!

The epiphany that I had, and the life lesson that I learned (courtesy of Louis C.K.), is that the best way to experience this HD-quality life is to put the camera down and live in the moment.  In his routine, he joked about how we all live our lives through a tiny, two-dimensional lens when we could be experiencing these moments in real-life 3D.  To be fair, the funniest part of the routine came afterwards when discussing what to do when posting these videos on Facebook, but it is not “family-friendly,” and cannot be shared in this forum.  However, you do not need the punchline to appreciate the legitimate point that he made with his observation.

Putting down the camera is easier said than done, but I was determined to do so the next time that the chance came to live in the moment instead of capturing it.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to wait too long.

With Louis C.K.’s words still ringing in my ear, I sat down in my seat to watch my 7-yr old daughter’s dance recital.  My wife wasn’t ready to join me on my mission, so she was in charge of the camcorder.  I took a few obligatory photos, but for the first time in six recitals, I experienced a “life-sized” moment, and enjoyed it more than ever before.  A malfunction with the camcorder had my wife in a frenzy.  In previous years, I would have also been in a panic, but I simply told her that we never watch them anyway.  I shocked myself with this newfound rationalism!

Memorial Day Weekend brought another major test of my willpower.

We have established a family tradition of kicking off the summer by attending the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach.  It is a spectacular event that must be experienced firsthand to truly appreciate.  In previous years, I took some photos during the early parts of the show, but when the headliner came on (Blue Angels or Thunderbirds), I kicked into full “capture-the-moment” mode.  At times, I would be shooting photos blindly into the sky with one hand while videotaping with the other hand.  I lucked into a few good pictures, but I cannot tell you how the videos came out because I have never watched them.

This year, I decided that it was time to live fully in the moment, and I did.  I didn’t take one photo.  I didn’t shoot any video.  I didn’t even turn my “battery-challenged” smartphone on to share the moment on Facebook.  Undistracted, I used all of my senses to take in this awe-inspiring show.  I found myself gasping at times as I watched the FA-18 Hornets pass within feet of each other at incredibly high speeds.  This is a staple of their demonstration, but I never appreciated the intense danger of the moment when viewing it through a tiny camcorder screen.

My brother-in-law joined us for the first time this year.  Photography being one of his favorite hobbies, he was intent on capturing every moment.  By the end of the day, he had taken 281 photos, a number that certainly would have been higher if he wasn’t budgeting his battery time for the main event.  My son took over 100 pictures, even though he was largely uninterested for much of the day.  My wife took some shots on her phone to send to friends, and my sister-in-law took some too.

As we sat around the table when we got home, I shared Louis C.K.’s insight with everyone.  In spite of the fact that they all took pictures, they agreed that his point was a valid one.  I asked my brother-in-law how many pictures he would have taken if he was using film instead of digital memory.  His answer (24) spoke volumes about how the convenience of digital media has made it too easy for us all to live life through a lens, capturing every moment instead of living in them.

Most people left the beach that day with numerous photos of the Air Show.  I left with a handful of photos, all of which were shots of me with my wife and kids.  Out of the thousands of photos that I’ve accumulated through the years of attending the show, one sits squarely on my mantle as a reminder of the experience.  It is a simple close-up of the four of us at Jones Beach, and one of my favorites because it brings me back to a moment in time.  The Blue Angels are awe-inspiring, but I wouldn’t trade a perfect shot of their performance for the family photo that means so much to me.

The majority of my life’s most memorable moments were not captured in photos or videos, but I remember them just the same because they have left an indelible, vivid imprint on my mind.  I don’t need to flip through photo albums or scan my computer to access them, so the argument can be made that the best way to capture a moment is to live in it fully.  It took Louis C.K.’s words of wisdom to bring me to this realization.  Hopefully, it will do the same for those who read this story.

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