I was recently reading on Mashable about an elderly woman who attended a red carpet event for the film Boston Black Mass. Normally with these kinds of events, everyone automatically pulls out their camera or smartphone to capture the moment in real time. Many people cannot wait to film or photograph every second of that moment. However, one woman chose to simply watch it through her own eyes with no recording necessary. This beautiful photograph of her leaning on the railings and contently smiling went viral online. This sweet photograph reminded me on how important it is to ‘be in the moment’.
But what does that mean? Does it mean that if we’re mindful we should never think about the past or the future, never try to plan or to reflect on our past experience? Actually, being in the moment means being mindfully aware of what is going on right here and now. A lot of the time we are automatically living out our habitual patterns which can run our lives for us – without us being able to stand back and take a moment to reflect on what we are doing. I'm writing this because I am guilty of this.
Every summer, like many parents we enjoy going to sports day to celebrate our little munchkins running their hearts out. Aside from the school christmas nativity, it has got to be up there as one of the cutest things I have seen. Now, I will be really honest here, Guilty Mother style; aside from last summer, I had never made it to a single sports day for either of my two children. My work commitments or constant meetings seemed to have got in the way. However, in 2015 - I was adamant I wouldn't miss it.
For my daughter’s sports day, I checked the clock, quickly wrapped up a meeting and dashed from work to be there on time. I dashed down to the sports pitches to find a sea of proud parents and grandparents lined the sports pitch on an array of picnic blankets and pop up chairs. They all looked the part. They had done this before. I genuinely had not realised this was such a major event. I felt a pang of 'guilt' for not dragging my husband to be here today - but at least I had dragged myself.
Whilst trying to get a good view, one of the other mums came up to me to congratulate me on my daughter being in the fastest girls’ race. I had no idea what she was talking about. Earlier in the week, the girls from all three reception classes had ran heats against each other, generating the final six for the fastest girls race.
Various races came and went and we clapped all the way through with plenty of cheers and from spectators. The moment arrived for the girls fastest race and out came the smartphones and cameras being pushed in my view and every parent busily tried to capture the ‘moment of glory’. Now, don't get me wrong, I completely get this. I am in the technology business but I was fascinated by watching some parents actually watch the race through their smartphone or camera. So, here's the point for discussion, are they actually watching the race, or are they just busy recording it? It made me realise that we are often so busy trying to capture memories, we barely have the time to simply enjoy the moment.
My daughter won the race. Fastest girl in her year and I enjoyed every second of watching that race with my own eyes. I was overwhelmed with pride as my daughter came over the finish line. She turned and saw me clapping. I winked at her. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
But what if, dare I say it. I hadn’t made it that day? This feels like a moment or a core memory from the film ‘Inside Out’. My daughter would have been jumping up and down with sheer joy…but I wouldn’t have been there, in that moment with her. The truth is, I am so relieved I was. That core memory is gold not blue.
I was talking to a friend today who mentioned that she loves going to the theatre as it’s one place you can really enjoy being in the moment. With no smartphones or cameras in sight, she’s right. So how do we strike a balance between capturing memories on our devices and watching the memory happen right in front of you? I’m still figuring that one out, but it’s all food for thought.
So, as a closing thought, when it comes to your child’s next sports day, friend’s birthday party or similar, take a few seconds to watch what happens around you. Then decide if you need to pull out your smartphone aswell. The decision is yours. Whichever you decide, just remember to be in the moment.