How important are photographs and videos taken of moments in your life?

I know I am in the minority when I say not that much…That’s not to say if my house was on fire I wouldn’t try to grab some favorite framed pictures on the way out the door. But I wouldn’t bemoan the loss of the photos.

How is that possible? Because I  have already experienced whatever happened in those pics and it’s in my brain somewhere and has become part of who I am today… Even though I would like to have photos as reminders of certain people or places, I don’t need to have them. Just having the experience is enough.

I feel like society has become absolutely obsessed with taking a picture or video of everything, whether it’s a big deal or not. Smartphones are whipped out so automatically to capture moments that the holder of the camera doesn’t really get to embrace what is going on right in front of them. Sometimes they miss the point completely. Here are a couple of examples:

For instance, in a Golden State Warriors game, our star player Steph Curry made a head first dive into the third row of seated fans to save the ball. While he was stuck down there in an awkward position, feet still sticking up over the chairs, did any fan help the poor man up? No!

The folks in that row of seats and two or more rows over all collectively held their smart phones up to their faces to take a picture of Curry wedged between seats on the floor. Really?? Put the phone down and help the guy get back in the game…Sheesh.

But, I may be a wee bit guilty of missing the big picture myself.

For example, while walking my dog on the beach a few weeks ago I noticed a disturbance in the waves about 20 yards out right in front of me… I saw a baby whale pop up and exhale through his blow-hole. So adorable!

And then the unthinkable happened – I saw an extremely large dark dorsal fin zipping about to and fro around the whale. Thinking that it looked like what could be the beginnings of a shark feeding frenzy I held my smartphone up to capture this god-awful yet totally alluring act of nature. It was crazy that I was actually catching the moment when a shark was attacking a baby whale.

Both my phone-holding hand and voice shook while I documented what was clearly a whale in distress and an evil Megalodon tormenting his prey. I held that smartphone camera up to my face for about 6 minutes taking a video, repeatedly and nauseatingly zooming in and out, trying to get a better look of the action. Because I was so sure I had witnessed this once in a life time, Discovery Channel-worthy shark versus whale moment, I sent the video to a famous shark researcher that lives in the area.

The expert said he reviewed my lengthy video 3 different times and could not make out a shark dorsal fin in the video. Basically he said there wasn’t a shark in the water at all – “Lady, it is a frolicking baby whale”. Turns out that what I thought was a shark fin was actually just a part of the whale tail and his side flipper. I was astounded. Because I don’t like to be wrong I actually emailed him back to “look again cause you are so wrong!”

He patiently responded with an in-depth analysis of what actually took place…The point of this long-winded story is that if I hadn’t been so obsessed with documenting this event with my phone and just watched it unfold with my own eyes, I could have enjoyed the sight of a playful baby whale cavorting about close to shore.

But granted there are important life events that I absolutely want photographs and/or video taken to document the experience. “The birth of my sons?” you may ask…Hell no.
Going into labor and ultimately pushing out a big baby is not a good look on me. So no cameras were allowed to immortalize my predicament – in a hospital gown upright in bed, legs in stirrups, being utterly exhausted, uterus cramping, cursing at my hubby and “ow, ow, ow-ing” in pain waiting for the merciful drugs to kick in.

No sir-ee, no one needs to see that. Not even me. When the nurse asked if I wanted a mirror to see the miracle of the baby push out through my tormented vaginal canal – I sneered at her like she was insane and said “F@ck no.” But on to a lighter, more family friendly part of my blog…

There is an event that I am super grateful to have pics and videos of; my wedding day. As a matter of fact, this day, April 30th is my anniversary. I got married 24 years ago today and my hubby did the most wonderful thing. He had our wedding video that was on a dusty, and yes forgotten, VHS tape, transferred to a CD. Needless to say it was fun to watch. We sat and looked at our younger selves walk into a church filled with family and friends (“Everyone looks so young and skinny!”) and exchanged our vows with bright-eyed goofy looks of love.

Listening to the speeches during the reception was better this second time around. My husband’s friends were funny – taking playful jabs at him while ultimately adding how great it was that he found me. Yeah me! And one of my oldest and bestest girlfriends gave a heartfelt and cute speech about our wonderful friendship over the years. How lucky am I to still have these true friendships in my life? Yeah great friends! But it was my father that stole the show– with an uhm, errrr..shall we say comedic speech about how God made Woman to be a mixture of every possible characteristic e.g. the loveliness of a flower, strength of tree, the tenacity of a bull, the pestering nature of a fly…. He then ended with a silly, totally non-p.c. tip for his new son-in-law about how to show your wife you are in charge. Let’s just say the men in the audience raucously cheered while the women shook their heads and booed…

It was bittersweet looking back on our wedding day from 24 years ago. The emotions on the video were so palpable. We both definitely felt the love in the room that day, from each other and from our friends and family. But as the camera panned around the tables where our guests were seated, we realized that quite a few had since left this world and some way too soon. My husband’s brother and father, my father and godfather, and various older family friends have passed away since that day. While we watched we held hands and smiled at our good fortune to have had those people in our lives and with us on that day.

And even though the clear particulars from our wedding may fade in our minds with time and although the disk with our video may get scratched or the photo album misplaced, I have no fear that the essence of that day will ever be lost. How can we relive those moments without the photos? We can because we took the time to consciously soak in those moments that day.

The all-encompassing aura of love and support that generated from the well-wishers that participated in our nuptials still lives on inside us somewhere – even 24 years later. And I truly believe that with or without a photograph some things can never be forgotten.

So whether it’s a wedding, vacation, special event or just hangin’ with your homeys, I say, “Why not try living more in the moment? Let’s unplug for a while, focus on who is beside you and just soak it all in.”

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne

3 Comment on “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby.

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