We’ve just come home from a quick, lovely weekend away.
Sparky and I are in the midst of a really busy period, the kids have just finished pre-school for the term, and life has been feeling very un-slow lately. Without sounding too much like the personification of a First World Problem, it was a break we were very grateful to have.
On Sunday morning we headed to the beach despite the fact that it was grey and cold and windy. Personally, I was keen to sit inside and drink coffee, but the kids have been itching to get their feet in the sand since winter began, so we walked down to the water anyway.
It was so beautiful. The ocean was all steel greys and navy blues, with crests of white and turquoise as the waves broke on the sandbars. The sky was gunmetal. The sand was a cold yellow. I sat up on the dunes and watched little flashes of red and pink as Sparky played with the kids on the waters edge. Yes, I’m waxing poetic, but damn it was gorgeous.
As I sat and watched them play and squeal and chase each other through the water, I was hit full-force by ALL THE EMOTIONS.
Love. Terror. Peace. Gratitude. Incompetence. Pride. Completion. Vulnerability. Sadness. Joy.
Bam! Right in the kisser.
Did I mention it was beautiful?
It was an unrelentingly photographable moment. A moment you want to wrap up and preserve and revisit on those days when there’s chalk ground in to the carpet and the kids have taken more than you have to give and there’s nothing in the fridge apart from leftover Chinese from last Friday. And it’s Thursday.
But I didn’t have a camera. And I didn’t have a phone.
I had my eyes. I had my heart. I had my brain.
So instead of worrying about the angle, or trying to get the best capture of the moment, I simply sat and watched my heart run around outside my body and I soaked the moment up and tucked it all away in my temporal cortex.
I didn’t Instagram it, yet it still happened.
I guess the question is, had I taken a photo of this moment, would it have made such an impact? Would I have felt it so deeply?
I don’t think I could have. I felt all the feelings because I was completely present.
A photo would have been gorgeous, I have no doubt. I might have had other emotions and recollections when I went back and looked at the camera roll, but it wouldn’t have been the same.
The irony of writing about this moment on my blog is not lost on me. But now I’m going to level with you.
I love Instagram and I’m quite fond of most social media. (Except FourSquare. It’s creepy.) I regularly capture snippets of my day-to-day life, things like kids, pets, gardens, sunsets and coffees. I love documenting sweet moments in my day, and sometimes I love sharing them with others.
But not always.
I believe some photos just need to be for you. No sharing. No likes. No comments. Just documenting a little moment and revisiting it on those days that seem like too much hard work.
And even more importantly, I believe some moments just need to be revelled in. No camera. No agenda. Just eyes and heart and brain.
Trying to capture the essence of these moments in a photograph does a disservice to the people we share them with, and it does a disservice to our memories.
So this week I’m challenging myself, and you if you’re up for it, to go and make memories. Real, skin and dirt and laughter memories. Don’t be afraid that you won’t remember those moments without a photo. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But in the doing, you will be living, not just observing.
For me, that’s real life. Right there.
(*And for anyone curious, the photo above was taken months ago. Same weather, different day.)