Thursday, March 13, 2014

Living in the Present


Lately, it's the word that often enters my mind when making decisions that seem to have no concrete right or wrong answer. I've entered a phase of my life, the sixth decade, where it has become apparent that I simplify my routine, minimize my belongings, stop sweating the small stuff, and absorb as much of the beauty of life as I can.

No, I'm not ready for the retirement condo home.

Yes, I have three kids at home.

In other words, I'm still very much in the mix of a busy, obligation filled life; however, the gradual change has begun. It is my way of incorporating the balance.


"What?" You may ask.

A Quick Story.

I had a journal as a teenager; just for a year. And like many who write, I also had a camera (110 film); freezing the times of my life in words and in pictures. Moments, thoughts, faces, events - I treasured it all. When I wanted to retrieve it to reminiscence or to supply my kids pictures for their Student of the Week posters, I could.

As the number of years increased, so did the number of journals. (I have a teen journal, adult journals, journals for my children, faith journals, a gratitude journal and letters.) And so did the number of photo albums - so, so many.

A large portion of those albums contain pictures of my children from film, as I did not jump on the digital bandwagon until 2007. For three kids, I've captured every birthday, every first day of school, every dance recital, every piano recital, several dips in the pool and the ocean, the first bike rides, award ceremonies, field days, every holiday, etc. And like most of the other parents, I've also squeezed my camera view between the heads of people sitting in front of me to get a shot of my kid performing on stage.

A few months ago, my daughter, Girl #3, said to me, "Mrs. R gets frustrated when the parents are snapping away or videoing instead of watching and enjoying the production." (Mrs. R used to be her theater teacher.)

"She should be," I responded. "She's very passionate and puts together a good show for us. And yes, sometimes I'm getting the shot instead of getting the show."

The Gradual, Energy-Saving Light-bulb comes on.

I'd already begun toning down my photography even before hearing about Mrs. R's frustrations, though she is a catalyst. Three reasons:
  • On vacation, I'm the only one lugging the camera and video recorder around to get pictures for the family history.
  • At extended family dinners - again - I'm taking pictures, feeling like the hired photographer, and having to ask one of my kids to get me into a shot or two.
  • Clutter. After joining my life with my husband's, our photo and photo album stock became massive. We also inherited albums from a deceased parent. Oh, and let's not forget the envelopes galore of pictures that were never put into albums. Remember the "duplicate" craze phase?

I ask myself if I really need to take my camera with me and if I so, do I really need to take pictures beyond the two or three that gives me a memory. After all - how often do I spend time looking through albums or picture files on my computer?

To convince myself, I think of Mrs. R. I also think about a "Quality" training session at a company that I worked for in the 1980s. It was there that I learned the concept, "Be Here Now," to focus on the task or pleasure at hand. Managing that concept means I'm not constantly living in the past. I'm also learning to see the whole of things; to peruse instead of skim; to slow down and absorb. It's a good thing.


When photography "is" the activity. One of many subjects being nature.

Do you ever miss part of the sports game, play, etc. because you're getting the shot or video? or miss the total enjoyment of an event?

Any general thoughts about "living in the present?"


joeh said...

I am a big proponent of enjoy now instead of looking at pictures to see if you had a good time years later. That pops filmed all my football games in high school...Every year I replay our Thanksgiving game senior year and every year I am excited that we won an upset over Plainfield 14-12. I taped my sons games as well...Priceless.

ShadowRun300 said...

Anymore, I take pictures for the blog, and that's about it. I took tons of pics of the kids when they were little, but with each child, the number of pics decreased. I always felt too, that I was missing out on the EXPERIENCE due to the stress of capturing the shot or the video. My parents weren't huge picture takers, and I'm a little sad about it, I must say. I'd love to see pics of my early days.
I'm sure there's a happy medium in there somewhere.

Rebecca S. said...

I like taking photos, but I'm not always lugging my camera to everything. One photo of a kid playing a violin and you've basically seen them all. I learned that after a while. My daughter had a photo of herself and her sister which she kept framed in her room. When my dad came to visit she showed it to him. You know what he said? "Why, do you think you'll forget what you look like?" I thought that was a funny, albeit grumpy grandpa thing to say, but there is some truth to our obsession with capturing every thing, every moment. I often leave my camera behind, but take it if I think I would really like a memory of a place I visit either for the blog or for the family album.

Tabor said...

I pretty much take a camera, either point and shoot or DSLR, everywhere. It is a big deal for me much like creating art. I do take lots of photos when with children and grandchildren but I find it does not eliminate me from what is happening. I can do both with balance and not irritating others and I am so happy to print out the select few that touch my heart at the end of the day and remember the day for years! I do think that I like the candid of activities and not so much the stage shots as a few of those is more than enough! But I love photo taking and do not mind not being in the majority of the photos.

Bryan Jones said...

I'm a staunch advocate for living in the moment - I think 'mindfulness' is the buzz-word.

I also feel that something important was lost when we moved into the digital-photo age. It's as if it is so quick and easy to click, store and erase that snaps seems less permanent, less significant.

Abby said...

I'm kind of the anti-photographer when it comes to these "milestone" events. I like taking photos for pretty or interesting things, but a blurry photo of some kids chasing a soccer ball? Nope. Getting a black belt for reading? I felt like the only one NOT snapping away. And I always wonder. Do those people really watch their videos of the ENTIRE 7th grade band concert?!

Barb said...

Oh - photography - one of my favorite subjects! I've pretty much stopped lugging my DSLR everywhere as I did 5 years ago, though I do like the story-telling aspect of photography. (I've decided that perfection eludes me, and museums aren't going to come calling.) Often, I snap a few shots on the phone and call it good. I did make an album for each of my 4 children when they graduated from high school. Their albums were a hit with them, their friends, and now are popular with their children who like to see what their parents wore and did in the"olden" days. But, I must say that I wasn't "into" photography as a hobby back then and I used film, so I took way fewer photos. Today, I believe that life is what's happening right now - I really don't want to miss it by having to focus on the viewfinder. I also don't want the pressure of being the family's go-to person for recording events.

Linda said...

I don't attend sports events or such so that is something I can't speak about. However, I take lots of nature walks and bring my camera with me. I enjoy watching the birds and animals, as I feel that they can teach us so much about living in the moment. I am a minimalist in the sense that I have just what I need and am happy with little.

Great post, Anita, and thank you so much for sharing.

Hilary said...

Guilty.. to a degree.

Actually, I pretty much feel the same way Tabor does. I do love to photograph events but not necessarily the classic scenes.

I know someone who has sat through all of her kids' (two daughters) birthdays, and now grandkids' birthdays through the years, with her camera in hand, snapping photos as every single gift has been opened, making the subject pose with each one so... so.. so.. why? So they don't forget the gifts they got? I don't know. I can't fathom the thought behind such boring photos but she does them every year.. several times a year.

I'd rather have a marcro of the sparkly bow, a closeup of her granddaughter's hand about to tear open a ribbon.. an empty cake plate and frosting on the child's face.

That having been said, I did document school events .. probably to excess but we do evolve - thankfully.

Margie said...

I take my camera with me every day when I go to my granddaughter's house where I take care of her.
I am blessed to be with her and the pictures I have captured of her are priceless.
(I have the best of both worlds)
Many of the photos I have put in photo frames scattered around my house.
I have always been a 'camera buff'

Margie said...

And may you always absorb much beauty in your life.
I liked those words you shared.

Linda Hensley said...

I'm the one who never thinks to have a camera at an auspicious moment so when I got one with my job I latched it onto my purse so I always have it -- but it's kind of like the cellphone I carry around and forget to charge or turn on. I excuse myself by telling myself I'm taking mental pictures :)

Judy Thomas said...

I once read that taking photos diminshed the experience. I think that is true, but I want some visual records of my life to look at later, just not too many.

Mage said...

Yes, you have to take your camera. Once, many long years ago granddaughter Megan said to me that I always had my camera in my face. I used it less around her after that, but now those are just about all I have of her. She does college and two jobs, and she is so busy she's vanished. She's not even on facebook any more.

Take the camera.

Rob-bear said...

I often take my camera for walks with me, to photograph interesting things I discover (once I have truly examined them). I occasionally take the camera to birthday parties, but I get shots after the fact (more or less).

I would hate to miss things because I was too focused on taking a picture.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Chapters From My Life said...

I am a lousy shooter Anita. The job has been long outsourced to my son who loves photography, photoshop, and animations. When I love something, I forget the camera, so no use carrying it with me.
Good introspection on your part!

TexWisGirl said...

i know that i stop to notice things more in my daily life and surrounding here because i grab my camera to take photos for the blog. in that way, photography or documenting 'stuff' has made me tune in better. but i don't have a busy life or kids to raise, either. :)

Unknown said...

Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

Betty Manousos said...

i almost always take my camera with me. i take photos because it reminds me of the beauty there is in little things. it forces me to see something in a new way...i like taking pictures because taking pictures fills my heart for other reasons unknown.

and thank you so much for your lovely comment. it is much appreciated.

you have a super awesome blog.

happy weekend!

pamlovesbooks said...

Very good questions. I feel like I AM living in the moment when I snap a good pic or 10. I want to preserve that good feeling at the moment!

Jen said...

I've stopped taking my camera on hikes. I'd rather enjoy just being outside in a beautiful place. Exception: Someplace to which I may never be able to return.

Birdwatching? I'm taking hundreds of photos.

I once forgot to take a picture of my daughter when she was receiving an award because I was too excited. I had to beg the other moms to send me one. Maybe just take one or two photos of the kids and then enjoy the show?

Buckeroomama said...

The last two "productions" that my kids were on, I did not take out my camera --not even my phone, --and I am so glad that I did not. I was able to fully enjoy their shows I was standing in the back of the hall watching and in front of me, dozens of cameras/tablets/phones were held up to record. Not only did it block my view, but I'm pretty sure these people did not get the full experience of delighting 'in the moment' of their children's performance.

Much as I LOVE to take pictures, I've learned to be more selective of when I take them.

Stephanie said...

I do! I do miss parts of the game, part of the moment as I am clicking away BUT when I do manage to capture that perfect shot? Oh how I love that moment too :)

fsmum said...

I know how this goes as I am guilty of it myself! I wrote a post on it in Nov 2011. I hope you don't mind me posting the link here!

fsmum said...

I know how this goes as I am guilty of it myself! I wrote a post on it in Nov 2011. I hope you don't mind me posting the link here!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I'm catching up here - sorry for the delay.

BTW - I love the new design of your blog.

As for photos, I found that often I was viewing my kids through a lens and missing what was actually happening. That viewing the photos didn't give me the same pleasure of watching what should be before my eyes.

I am the photo taker in my family. As I look around the cabin at all the candid photos I've hung and have on shelves, I'm not represented anywhere. I doubt my family has ever noticed this. Ha! I think that is what I have discovered also -- I don't like when everyone lines up for a shot. I prefer to catch people in moments. Moments they are unaware that someone is capturing them. Much more interesting and poignant.

Uh, oh, Did I answer the question?

Ms. CrankyPants said...

Oh, I have boxes of old photos...that I look at only when moving ("Hey, what's in this box?"). Now my phone is clogged with photos. No, I don't need 4 pictures from different angles of the same thing. But I do like having a few pictures from a special trip! My memory is unreliable, so having physical evidence that I was there is helpful!

InSeason Mom Cynthia said...

My hubby and daughter are the photographers of the family. They do a good job of living in and capturing the present. I get to “re-live” the fun times when I look at their photography.