So we’re walking the rim of the Grand Canyon, wife and kids. A bucket list item for me. The climax of months of planning, thousands of kilometers of driving. A close call involving a dead car battery, some cables and some amazing and dedicated employees of the Holiday Inn Express. But we made it. This is the moment I had been visualizing in my head since we decided to take this journey. And I, as usual, am talking to my GoPro, documenting the essentials of the experience, from beginning to middle to end – pausing only to save battery and have less footage to filter through for that night’s editing.
My wife, with genuine loving and non-judgmental intent, suggests that I put the GoPro down and just “enjoy the moment”. And it gets me thinking – what does it means to “enjoy the moment”? How does one embody, convey, and truly go about “enjoying the moment”?
It has been suggested, by friends, family, and strangers, that I might suffer from OCD, ADD, HDTV, HDMI, and a number of other sinister sounding acronyms. The reality is that there is a constantly-churning engine in my head that never really shuts off. Ideas, concepts, jokes, maxims, philosophies, witty retorts, that come to me at all times of day. And if I don’t write them down fast enough, I will forget them forever. I will often wake in the night looking for a pen and paper to jot down a thought or a dream. And if I don’t, and forget it before waking, my morning cup of coffee will taste that much more bitter.
“Enjoy the moment”.
What does that even mean? Sit on a bench and stare at the horizon? I’ve never felt compelled to stare at the horizon. I’ve always felt compelled to run into the sunset. Which brings me to my realization: Either I don’t know how to “enjoy the moment”, or I enjoy the moment in a manner that would make most other people nervous, tense, apprehensive, or, as my wife says, in a totally non-judgmental and loving manner, “draining”.
I am honest enough to know that it’s a disingenuous dichotomy, because I knew the answer before suggesting the question. There are many ways to “enjoy the moment”, and they are not the same for everybody.
I have never been able to take naps. I don’t want to miss out on the sunlight. I have never been able to sleep in, for fear of missing out on the sunlight. I find ‘relaxation’ to be stressful. I don’t like sitting down. I don’t like slowing down. I don’t like stopping. Stopping makes getting started that much harder. I understand that I will one day lose all knowledge of my own existence, if not through senility or dementia, merely through the demise of my own being. In all likelihood, one day I will be sitting in a rocking chair at an old person home, unable to recall my own life. Unable to distinguish family from potential thief there to steal what little material belongings I have left. And even if I live to recall my own existence, it will invariably dissolve with the ultimate setting sun.
One day the earth will, by cosmic standards, quickly fall into, or get eaten up by the sun, and the only trace of the very existence of our humanity will be a pod aimlessly floating through the infinite cosmos, desperately waiting for the mere potential of intersecting with some other life form capable of understanding who we were, and why we felt our mere existence was important.
And for me, the only way to properly document and appreciate our existence, the only way to relax and enjoy the moment, is through the lens of a camera. Because I will one day forget my own existence, if not by chance, by inevitability. One day, the cosmos will forget I ever existed. And the only hope for meaning, the only way to hope to enjoy the moment, is to hope that it will somehow survive my own existence, floating through space-time for an eternity.