NO PHOTOS PLEASE
The day started off as a rainy damp Wednesday. After spending a good portion of it inside the house not feeling myself, a walk in some fresh air was calling my name. My old high school friend dying as quickly as she did has awakened my pragmatic outlook on mortality and I am not even her family, her closest of friends, her husband. The need to honor my heart this week was a certainty and I went with it yesterday as my lovely team rallied to take care of my business and my schedule to allow me some time. I parked myself on the couch after completing a few errands to get a nice dinner ready for Valentines Day prepared to eat popcorn and watch sappy movies all day. As the sun peaked its pretty face taunting my decision to partake in a sorrow fest in the curtain drawn living room, my brother’s face actually appeared before me as he lay in his hospital bed not being able to go outside. I remember like it was yesterday him saying to me that he just wished for one more ride around the block on his bicycle, one more breath of fresh air. These words have become both a simultaneous lift and a burden as I struggle with the permission to give myself a day of lying around on a couch on a day that started rainy and became sunny.
More often this is the privilege of health and these decisions are not a struggle for the masses. For me though, unexpected sunny beautiful February days becoming a cross to bear is as annoying to me as it is likely annoying for anyone reading this, but nonetheless here I am. Full exposure of my brain. I made my way off the couch after a few hours of watching a depressing movie called Revolutionary Road. I thought this diversion was going to be a love story between Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio. Instead it was more like the movie War of the Roses drudging up relationship disappointments of yesteryear, not a great theme on a day of love and an already sad sack of heart.
A walk would do me a good turn so I took a warm shower to get the grayness of the day off me to brighten my spirit, layered on the clothes and stepped off the porch into the light. As I began the walk towards the pond that overlooks Newport’s First Beach, I had to control my decision to leave my phone behind. The conflict of shutting the texting and the phone down and the desire to capture the light with the built in camera was nagging at me once I walked into the literal light of the scenery.
As I marched forth, the light took my breath away. The peninsula-esque Tuckerman Ave neighborhood filled with converted summer homes built before anyone considered the ramifications of zero zoning rules, captured the light of the soon to be five pm setting sun. The homes looked like they were simmering on a low fire with the warm pink glow that could have been Menorca, Spain in the middle of a hot August summer. And I didn’t have my phone that contained my camera.
And I liked it.
I liked it because there was no distraction of having to reach for it, having to put my thumb on the button to have my phone magically read my print that seldom works for me. Of course, I often try again like when I am vacuuming and a piece of something doesn’t get sucked up so instead of picking it up, I go over it five more times thinking the hose will get it at some point. I liked it because there was no need for me to end up having to type my no longer four digit but six digit ID that Apple made me change at my last forced upgrade that I didn’t ask for. There was no distraction of trying to take a photo to capture what I observed with my two eyes on the clearest of Valentines days, taking the picture then looking at it to prove or disprove its worthiness of what I was seeing shaving precious minutes from a setting sun. I walked and breathed and prayed. I smelled and felt. I witnessed the moment I had taken for myself. I walked towards the beach surrounded by water and geese and pinkness of sky feeling my heart beat. I felt the brisk salty air on my skin with my thoughts stirring with ideas and peace that only an outdoor walk alone gives me.
The only moment captured was the actual moment by my eyes not my phone. I reflected on just a short time ago when the world was not captured second by second, minute by minute by every single person because we all did not have a phone with a built in camera. Are we better off or worse for it all? I don’t know, but what I do know is that without the camera and the distraction of its presence in my pocket, the choice to be with my own thoughts rather than with the direction of the phone was a good choice for that moment. We all have choices on our movement through our days. Looking down, looking out or looking up. Phones and their bells and whistles have become a force in our lives like nothing we have seen in previous generations. I know for me and my need to ground myself, the phone is not helpful for my need to center and I have to consciously choose or not choose it as my companion. The beauty of the walk reminded me why these decisions have become more important in my own life as I navigate nature with technology. I am guilty of over photoing as my partner will attest, as my son will attest. Food, moments on mountains, beach, life. I have actually been taking less photos but what is less? Photos and videos have become a routine in our lives posting for my business and intermixing it all with my life. Digital footprints as they are called. I am not sure where all of this leads, but what I am sure about is that as I move closer towards the midpoint of my fifties, I am happy that I am not of the generation born now as a parent who has to try to control its invasion in my young child’s life. Years from now, what will the studies be? Will our children have any privacy? Even if we consciously choose to stop the madness, it does not control the need for others to take photos and videos of us when we are not looking. The social implications are for the researchers, for me now in my world, I am happy I get to make the choice.