Today I went walking with my beautiful wife, exploring the city. We enjoyed tromping around a beautiful old mill that had been turned into a park-now called Goldie Mill Park. Apparently (according to the plack)-the Mill was the first Mill to ever be built in the Guelph, Ontario area. There wasn’t much left other than large stone walls and one tall smokestack. The way that nature had taken the ruins as one of its own made the place idealistic for a portrait photography shoot, so my wife began to take snapshots of possible places for poses. My wife is currently expanding her photography business, and is always looking for new places to bring couples or individuals for photo-shoots. You can catch some of her work here, it’s marvelous! After enjoying the rustic charm of the old mill, we drove to another area of the city and walked over an old bridge to a path that took us alongside a river. As I mentioned, for first part of these experiences my wife delighted in snapping photos of possible photography session opportunities. The mill would make a beautiful setting. But, for the second part-I requested that she put the camera away and enjoy the beauty that surrounded us with only memory to provide us with reflection. Sometimes I think we forget to appreciate beauty as we experience it, and are neglectful of experience itself. It is as though we believe that true experience only occurs after the event-when we begin to look at pictures and, often with more vigour than the event deserves, when we begin to share the pictures.
In a moment of clarity, I found myself standing at the water’s edge-my arms wrapped around my wife, listening to the rustling of the wind blowing through the trees. If you have not ever experienced this sound-and some of you truly have not, then you must take a stroll through nature and stop to appreciate it. For someone who greatly loves and appreciates the triumph of words, I find myself at a loss. I could tell you that it is almost a spiritual sound-God’s way of telling us that there is more to this world than meets the eye. There is a deeper level of existence that we are often unaware of, and the sound of the wind comes from there. But, this is still only fumbling-you must experience it. More importantly, there is no picture that can show you this, and I cannot help you to recapture the event through description. If I recorded the sound and had you listen, you would still not have experienced the rich eloquent simplicity of the moment. God gave us five senses to work in harmony with each-other, and then He created a world that harmoniously speaks to each one. That, in every way, is what experience truly is. Allowing yourself to become lost in a moment, where every one of your senses is contributing to the full picture of moment.
I do not want to harp on this too long, but I do feel that smartphones need a mention here. I will have some people responding to this by giving me a pat on the back and saying “that’s right, smartphones ruin everything!”. Others will immediately begin rationalizing their usage, explaining how they use their phones for work, or how they simply want to share moments as much as they can. I believe I agree with both of these perspectives. I utilize my phone for work-particularly in the way of tracking emails. I also share moments with my wife, and remain connected to her throughout the day despite our separation. However, I often think that smartphones do ruin everything. Too many times I have been enjoying an experience-whether it be a conversation, a silence, or a perspective on beauty, when I am jolted out of the moment by the beeping of a phone. Generally speaking, my companion will inevitably reach for his or her pocket, pull out the culprit of the noisy crime, and engage in willful negligence toward the experiential. All this is simply to say-please resist the urge to triumph memory over experience. After all, it is the feelings that we remember the most, and it is these that often lose out to our beeping and busy lives.