Why I don’t worry about the photos

This week I went to my son’s Chistmas chapel, which included him singing “Twinkle Twinkle” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain” . He was great and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. He has really blossomed in the past few months of school.

The thing that was interesting to me was the rabid nature of the parents trying to capture photos and video of their kids. Multiple cameras, video equipment, cellphones, all being schlepped and used, with everyone jockeying for a good vantage point. They seem so focused on capturing the event that they aren’t actually there for the event. Instead experiencing it through the lenses and displays of their devices, a technological intermediary, overlaying battery indicators, number of images or minutes captured, storage space remaining. All ambient pieces of data not related to the actual event going on, particularly if the one capturing is continually ape-ing the camera to see the results of their last button press.

While I realize that there are things, illness and injury, that can take my memories from me, I would much rather be fully present at events like any son’s Christmas chapel than a slave to capturing it. Sure, I won’t remember every detail of all of the events in my kids lives, but I will truly experience them and enjoy it with them. If I forget the details, they will help remind me. And if they can’t remember it in striking detail, I would love to hear their story about it.

The other reason why I am not fanatical about capturing every moment of my kids life. The mental overhead. A woman I know takes photos at an event and then spends the moments after taking the picture trying to decide which ones to keep, which ones to delete and which ones to post to Facebook. The moments that she chooses to do this ritual is immediately after capture, while the event is still in swing, while there is still a chance to be part of the experience.

The ritual of sorting, selecting and sharing is part of the mental overhead that I am not willing to expend. In addition, I always wonder what this woman and the other parents voracious capturing are going to do with the images and videos they take.

I am sure some make scrapbooks, and others get prints. Most sit untouched, unseen. The rare few are shared on Facebook where they get some “likes” and a couple of comments. But all of this, getting prints, long term digital storage, posting to Facebook, it is all mental overhead.

“Where did I put those pictures I got prints of?”

“Did I download those photos off of my camera?”

“Where are those pictures on my computer? Did I upload them to Facebook?”

Not to mention backing the digital versions up. Seth Clifford

I don’t remember the first time I lost data. I don’t even remember what it was. I do remember the feeling of utter despair though, and the declaration that I wouldn’t let it happen again. Since then, so much of my time and mental energy has been spent thinking about ways to prevent this from happening and creating layers of redundancy around my data and in many cases the data of those close to me.

Seth writes later about the first of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths: The anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things that are constantly changing.

Trying to preserve the moment we can destroy our actual experience of the moment. The overhead of what to do with the artifacts captured can lead to more stress, and the loss of what was considered safe, will almost always lead to suffering.

I hope to never be struck with a disease that corrupts my memory, I want to cherish the memories I have for as long as I live. I also don’t want to work myself into a basket case regarding what to share, where to store and how to best capture a moment.

In a sermon at church the assistant rector shared how during the season of Advent, Christians should prepare to be awakened by Christ’s birth, but we have any number if things, from cellphone to calendars to todo lists to keep us asleep from being awake to Christ’s presence in the mundane, everyday moments and interactions. Whether it is seeing Jesus in the moment or reducing dukkha in our lives, mindfulness is not just being physically present, but only in being fully present.