Saturday, October 1, 2016

Living in the Moment

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a mega concert. Not a huge deal since I've been a regular concert goer since the 1980s when I was single digit age. In fact, my first concert was a 1982 show featuring local go-go artists at the Capital Centre--home of the Washington Wizards then the Washington Bullets. No matter how old I get, the excitement I feel when the house lights go down, the roar of the crowd goes up, and the band hits its first note never escapes me. It's a moment I live for.

As I've gotten older, my concert going experience has changed a bit, as I prefer smaller venues, dining halls, and taverns, where I can get a more intimate experience with my favorite artists; an up close personal touch, where not only can I hear my favorite song but I can truly experience it. Where the artist may come out into the audience for a glass of water or even a french fry from someone's plate (yeah, I've actually seen all of this) or hang around after the show and chat with fans. In those moments, it truly becomes a "family affair" to be cherished.

My first concert ticket.
Photo credit: Erica Kennedy
However, there are those mega artists whose presence--and popularity alone--cannot be contained in anything smaller than a stadium and you either go along or settle for jamming to their tunes in your car instead. So, there I was on that recent Thursday night, in the midst of it all--the screaming fans, the excitement, the booming bass from the speakers vibrating bodies of all ages and races--and camera phones. Camera phones as far as the eye could see in almost EVERY hand. Most taking pictures of themselves; others taking pictures of the artists; but many--thanks to the newer Facebook Live app--recording themselves "having fun"--or at least being highly invested in making others believe that.

In all of the madness, I literally had a moment of reflection--and a bit of sadness--of how technology, while advancing all of our lives mostly in positive ways, have robbed us of some very basic pleasures. One of those: authentically living in the moment. We're all guilty of it at times, myself included. That is, clinging to that unfounded fear of losing the moment; of trying to find a way to bottle what we're feeling; to freeze time. But in all of our technologically advanced efforts to capture eternity, what we're unfortunately doing is missing the moment all together.

Global mega star Beyonce can even be seen here--albeit captured on camera phone by a concert goer--pleading with a fan during her performance of "Irreplaceable" to "put that damn camera down." "You can't even sing cause you're too busy taping," she said. "I am in your face, baby. You gotta seize the moment."  Seizing the moment. It's something I couldn't agree with more, as I can think of one show in recent years that was so ground-breaking, I let my fear of missing any of it, cause me to view half of it through my phone. And I can tell you, it's a moment I often wish I could get back just to experience it fully present.

As multifaceted as we think we are, we honestly are not equipped to let all of our senses be fully engaged in a moment while focusing on the perfect shot or recording. It simply can't be done. And although we may have the footage for life, we'll never have the actual experience for life. Our "minds eye," which is needed to adequately file that moment away, will always be compromised in trying to capture it.

The only photo Prince would approve of.
Photo credit: Erica Kennedy
I couldn't be more reminded and appreciative of this as I was on June 14, 2015 when a friend invited me to see Prince in concert. Prince, adamant about no photography during his show, had security in place to take away any phone they saw or remove any concert goer using one. Of course, there were those who tried to sneak and capture a shot or two, but for the most part, everyone was forced to be present. To see his Royal Badness with their own two eyes, and not through the filter of a camera phone; to contribute their full energy to the atmosphere Prince was creating--a shared space in time in a crammed Warner Theater, shoulder to shoulder, fan to fan. When Prince would unexpectedly leave this earth less than a year later, I could not be more grateful for his directive that evening. Why am I thinking about this now? Because as I type this, I'm cleaning out my DVR on a rainy Saturday evening and melancholically enjoying the special "20/20" report aired the day after Prince's passing celebrating his life. And, again, I'm more grateful than ever for that "unfiltered" final experience.

Yes, technology has forever changed the way we live, how we process information, literally, and how we navigate life on a daily basis, but we are still very much in control of how we process our own experiences. It is my hope that along with finding ways to be smarter, quicker, savvier, and dare I say it, "more popular," with our social media "audiences," we're not trading in the purest of moments to do so. Let's make more moments in time special by actually experiencing the fullness of them, fully present and free from the distractions of ourselves; free of regret.

Photo Credits: N/A

No comments:

Post a Comment