Moments That Make Us
Tuesday May 31, 2022
I came home from a weeklong trip in the Smoky Mountains last Friday with not much to show for except 17 mosquito bites, jet lag, and a hodgepodge of photos. Five years ago, that reality might have felt like a “wasted” opportunity - what is the point of a picturesque vacation if not staged, filtered, and posted, after all? No, scratch that. Five years ago, that reality would’ve never happened because you know I’d have kept my phone in my back pocket, ready to capture that perfect moment in a square - a moment that was lost as a bodily experience, but forever documented in my feed.
Four years into my permanent departure from social media, I feel free of the need to perform. It's been like coming alive again. I didn’t pack for Tennessee thinking about whether my kids’ outfits would be perfectly coordinated, didn't care that I looked a little dumb in that one photo, didn't take in the breathtaking views of verdant trees through my iPhone screen - or worse yet, through the mental lens of how I want to portray my life. Praise. What a gift it has been to become less self-aware, to stop living for a highlight reel, to show up for the millions of in-between moments that make up 99% of life. To learn and relearn that none of this is actually about me at all.
But it’s a balancing act, right? I still love capturing moments for the memories and have thousands of photos in my camera reel to prove it. There’s nothing better than coming across a hilarious video of my girls dancing in their diapers or finding a blurry selfie of my husband and me biking through Central Park, moments that I might have otherwise forgotten. I’m so grateful for how technology has allowed us to so quickly capture a moment and tuck it away into our hearts, like these images of my little girls last week: in awe of the view above the clouds and snuggling on a hammock under the trees.
Sometimes it still feels hard to let myself just be in a beautiful moment - fully present with all of my senses - because I’m distracted by the impulse to take a picture, weighing the worry that I might one day forget. For all of us, it’s a give and take, a conscious choice of which moments to capture and which ones to allow to capture us, to form us, as life is meant to do. Sometimes, we'll choose to step out of the moment to snap a photo because we know it’s one we’ll want to have in the archives. Hopefully more often, we’ll simply enjoy the moment, soaking it all in without any pressure to do anything but just be.
I'm still wiped out from our time in the mountains - from many late night conversations with friends, shushing jet lagged littles to sleep, long days of travel and carsickness. But I'm also refreshed in a way that only being surrounded by the sheer beauty of nature can do, (mostly) unplugged. I didn't get photos of so many moments I loved, the dappled roads under a canopy of trees, periwinkle dusk beyond the mountains, my oldest hugging her naked little sister in a roadside church parking lot after a bout of vomit. There will never be a resolution high enough to capture moments like those - the depth, the breadth, the subtleties, the sounds, how they made us feel. Instead, I think in learning to let those moments simply wash over us, they can actually serve the purpose they’re meant to - to fill us afresh with wonder, joy, peace, gratitude, and belonging.