beautiful things don't ask for attention

I first heard those words in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. There, a famous photographer was waiting for a snow leopard to come out, up in the Himalayas. But when she did come out he just let the moment passed by. When Walter Mitty asked him why he didn’t take the picture, he said that if he really loved a moment, he didn’t take a photo of it. He just wanted to stay there in the moment. “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention,” he said. And it’s true.

I’m one of those people who are obsessed with taking pictures. And after, I set aside some time to post the photos on Instagram. Perhaps first, it’s to tell the world of what I’m doing and where I’m going and what I’m eating and who I’m with at the moment. Perhaps second, it’s to let them know that hey, I exist and I’m doing stuff too. It’s actually kinda ironic that when I’m posting these photos, I’m not actually doing something. I’m, well, just plugged in.

Research has proven that our memory deterioriates after the invention of picture taking. Sure, it helps us to capture a moment at present and take it with us, exactly as it is, to the future. These photos, in a sense, are our tickets to access the past – to relive them again and again. But even if our photos are beautiful, most often we don’t really remember what the real sky looks like that day or how the fresh air smells or how the bird sings. We don’t remember, because we are too busy posing, smiling to the camera which will create a replica of our memories, so that we can delete the real experience from our brains.

My family and I just got back from traveling to Canada. We went to Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Vancouver, and the Rocky Mountains. We have taken pictures as the evidence that we’ve been there. And I was obsessed with taking photos. I would like to see myself in front of those mountains, but perhaps, at that exact moment in time I wasn’t fully there. Physically, I was, but on a truer note, perhaps I was living in the picture.

What would it be like, to travel without a camera? How would it feel, to go to places without the urge to record it for the future? What would it be, really traveling and living for the present, only for the present?

Perhaps I would remember more. Perhaps I would have more stories to tell when I come back. Perhaps I would experience more, feel more.

Next time, when I’m passing a beautiful moment, perhaps I would try to resist the urge to stop and frantically take out my camera. Perhaps I would choose to exchange a ticket to the future with a fully immersed experience of being in the present instead.


Photo by chiarashine