Driving home from Utah this November we stumbled across the most gorgeous view. We were almost in some tiny town in Illinois, we'd just passed over a river, was it the Mississippi, the sun was dropping. The three line was dark, the entire sky where the sun was setting over the river pink and orange, lines of even lighter pink streaked the sky where earlier jets had left streams behind. It was the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen. I frantically started searching the car looking a phone or a camera. "You're missing it," J told me. "No, no, I have to get this on film," I replied. "C, you're missing it, and it's not like a picture is even going to do it justice, just look up and photograph it on your mind." He was right you know. Within seconds we were off the bridge and the sight had changed ever so slightly to make is just a nice sunset, where moments before it had been a true masterpiece. Had I continued to search for my camera I would have missed the end entirely. I was extremely flustered, why couldn't I have had my phone at the ready on my lap, why didn't I own a better camera, what didn't I have a proper warning that I was about to witness something spectacular. As I sat in my disappointment I contemplated on what my husband had said. His offhand remark was probably one of the most profound things I've ever heard him utter.
So often in life the beauty springs up before us, unexpected and surprising. It often only last for a second before the view changes ever so slightly. In our digital age it is tempting to try and capture all these moments but even the best pictures are often a poor substitute for the actually moment. We had friends this summer who made a trek to hike Kilimanjaro. We followed along on their hike via Facebook and we were pretty amazed by their feat. Later though they came over for breakfast to give us all the highlights of the trip. They were so animated and I realized that their pictures were not even able to capture a tenth of their experience. The stories they told were so much more vivid, so much more real.
Our digital lives have given us the opportunity to be constantly documenting ourselves. We take pictures, we add captions, we post and share them with all our friends and family and yet in a lot of ways those constant attempts to document our existence pull our eyes away from what is happening right before our face and what we are left with is a poor two dimensional representation that is like that moment when the view changed just slightly and lost it's magic. It isn't to say that I don't love photography, that I don't love instagram, and facebook, chat books, and blogs but I think we need to be careful to actually live in the moment, to memorize the magic and to not miss the beauty because are so busy trying to find a way to capture it.