Tonight was my daughter’s dance recital. This is an event we’ve been looking forward to for nine months. She’s taken lessons nearly every Saturday since mid-September, with a few exceptions for holidays and vacations. It’s been a journey of growth for her and for me. There was even a time early on when there was a question of whether she’d be able to continue with the class because she was so undisciplined her first day the teacher feared she’d be a bad influence on others.
But tonight, she shined. And I don’t have one photo of it or one minute of videotape. This was a choice made by a parent who has 17,000 photos on my Mac, 99 percent of which were taken since the Pumpkin was born four years ago.
Why did I choose not to record this precious memory? Because I wanted to live it. I didn’t want to see the Pumpkin dance through a viewfinder or a 3-inch LCD screen. I didn’t want to be distracted. I wanted to be present in the moment, enjoying every second. And I was. And I did. I cried. I smiled big. I held her father’s hand. I was there.
As a parent who watched her daughter blow out her birthday candles two years in a row from behind a camera, I can say that being there—truly there in the moment—beats the recorded memories.
I can only look at the pictures of that fourth birthday moment because I don’t have the images in my head to enjoy.
Tonight, I have something better than pixels. I have the afterglow of the feeling that welled up in me. I can only describe it as bliss.
I’m curious about the choices readers of this blog have made in similar circumstances. Have you, like me, been too willing to experience the milestones from behind the lens? What occasions have prompted you to just put down the camera and live? Or, do you derive such joy from rewatching the event that it’s worth it to be distracted by the filming of it?