Capture & Experience

Some people take pictures of fireworks, or they pull out a smartphone and snap a few pictures of a bride walking down the aisle. I will never understand this.

Those are amazing moments! And I totally get the desire to capture amazing moments. You want to share them, perhaps you want to store them, but you want them. I get it! And I’m not one of those people who thinks you should never capture a moment, that you should always prioritize being “fully present” over taking a picture or a note. But I do have some easy heuristics, some basic questions I ask myself for deciding which to prioritize in that moment.

Question 1: Am I ever, ever, realistically going to review the captured moment? Have I ever once wanted to look at pictures of fireworks? Probably not. Certainly, no one else will, which obviously eliminates the “sharing” benefit. On the other hand, I often find great joy in looking back on pictures of my kids doing kid stuff, and my extended family loves being able to share in the joy of moments they can’t be physically present for. So as long as I’m not overdoing it, pictures of my playtime with my kids can occasionally interrupt the playtime itself.

Question 2: How accessible would captures of this moment be later if I’m not the one to capture it? Take the wedding, for example. Do you really think that on that day, your blurry cell phone shot from 2/3 of the way back in the church is going to be the best picture of the bride available later? Enjoy the moment. I promise you they’ll post the best pictures on social media later. On the other hand, if it’s a more intimate moment and you’re the only one who’ll reasonably capture it, go ahead. If you just climbed a mountain, feel free to take a picture of it, my friend.

So that’s it. We all have the urge to constantly collect every moment around us, as if any one might escape and we might find a particular emotion never returns. I promise, that won’t be the case. Many moments aren’t worth capturing (even if they’re worth experiencing), many other moments will be easily available anyway (you can seriously just Google pictures of fireworks any time you want). And some moments are just meant to be lived once.

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