Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What we share vs. what we see

Today Miss V and I went to one of my favorite places.

Oh, I couldn't help it.  You have to, don't you, when it looks this festive?

Everything was excessively Christmassy, which is only to be expected.  Miss V begged for (and got) some hum bow from the dim sum vendor, and I wandered around picking up some last-minute goodies for the upcoming family julbord.  And maybe some gifties.  But I'll never tell.

While wandering around I caught sight of the Great Wheel, Seattle's answer to the London Eye.  No, I still haven't reveled in this particular tourist attraction.  I imagine that will happen in 2013.

Rather picturesque, isn't it?

After running our errands around the Market, we returned home laden with booty -- but Miss V must have had still more items on her shopping list, as she decided she had to make a trip to the mall.  She also asked if she could borrow my camera, to which I agreed.

As twilight slowly froze into dusk, I was driving toward a friend's house to drop off a small gift when I experienced one of those wondrously surreal moments that life sometimes throws your way, hollering "Think fast!"  Riding toward me on the other side of the road was a bicyclist who looked as though he'd escaped from Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade.  He had covered his entire bike -- and his entire body -- with tiny colored Christmas lights.  Even his bike helmet was decorated with two little white lights positioned in front in such a way that he looked as though his eyes were glowing.  It was bizarre and fantastic, one of those sights I knew I couldn't do proper justice in words alone, so I reached for my camera and...


But you know, the more I think about it, the less it matters that I wasn't able to take a picture of the Illuminated Cyclist.  Here's why: Westerners have fallen into the habit of obsessively documenting their lives, and have forgotten how to just live.  I get the motivation behind this behavior; as an introvert, I mentally walk through past experiences or anticipate future ones, living them in my head.  But it's too easy to let this tendency run away with you.  People have developed an almost compulsive need to record anything interesting that happens in their presence -- first with home movie cameras, then with camcorders, now with cell phones and digital cameras -- so they can share it later, rather than just letting go of that need to preserve it for posterity and experiencing it all firsthand, in real time.  And though I enjoy social media and photos and YouTube, I think we are losing something precious when we only engage with the world through an artificial lens.

Just something to think about.

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