Saturday, September 25, 2010

Put the Camera Down!

When my little princess was 5, she took a ballet class. I remember well her spring recital--her sparkly gold leotard, the black and red floral print wrap-around skirt, and a luscious red silk blossom crowning her perfectly gelled bun. They did a cha-cha to Michael Buble's "Save the Last Dance." She was adorable. I had a video camera trained on the stage the whole time. About half-way through the number, though, I had a wake-up moment. Something warned me that if I didn't peel my eyes away from that small digital screen to look at my real-life little girl up there, then all I would ever have was a blurry 800x600 film. I needed to be in the moment, see it with my own eyes and live it to love it, not just to document it.

As a story-teller, I fear that many times in my life I find myself living behind a proverbial camera. I view situations merely for their resale value: how would I tell this story to someone else? Would this make a good magazine article? or a good short story? When I learn about other peoples and cultures and time periods, I too often think, this might make good research material for a story. As great as it is to glean information from the world around us, I have to remind myself to LIVE. This holds especially true when it comes to my family. I don't want my children to ever feel like they are tabloid celebrities and I'm the paparazzi, exploiting their significant life changing moments for the sake of a good story.

I still use a camera, but ever since that first recital, I have a habit now of always looking over it. The scene may not end up framed perfectly in the film, but my memories of the moment have no borders, and I can truly say, I was THERE.


  1. Now that is sound advice! I see so many parents glued to cameras that they never really see the event unfolding.

  2. WONDERFUL post! I had the same experience at my daughter's first dance recital.

    Pictures are great ways to keep memories, but now when I realize I've left the camera behind I don't run back and get it. Instead, I take a picture with my mind and write about it when I get home.

    I like your point about living in the moment instead of looking at everything as potential story material. But I find that when the moment gets too painful I can always step back and say, this is going to make a great story. No experience is ever wasted on a writer.

  3. Awesome! Sometimes I feel guilty for NOT filming their every move, but sometimes I'm just too busy enjoying the ride. :) Now, it's almost a big deal to them. "Mom, are you going to bring the camera?" "Do you think I should?" "Yes!" "Alright then." :)

  4. So true, Rebecca. Sometimes it is a survival mechanism to recognize the story potential in a difficult experience! I've certainly been there!

  5. I've been feeling the same way all week. What a good reminder to live. Thanks


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