Monday, January 20, 2014

Imagine That

Recently, I ran into a kid who I had coached last year in Y basketball.  I asked him how he had been.  He didn't talk much.  After a few minutes he came up to me and said, "You were the best basketball teacher ever."  I needed no praise from my wife that day nor an 'atta boy from the boss on Monday.  The affirmation of a First Grader carried me for a week. 

A recent article stated that we remember more of an event when we aren't taking pictures.  A study noted individuals attending a museum who were snapping photos remembered 10 percent less objects and 12 percent less details about an object versus those who were not taking pictures.  "When you press click on that button for the camera, you're sending a signal to your brain saying, 'I've just outsourced this, the camera is going to remember this for me," said Linda Henkel, a professor, who led the study.

Years ago, a supervisor asked what I wanted to do in my career.  I wasn't sure.  I knew that I wanted to get married, have sons, and coach.  I've realized my dreams and have coached both of my sons in many sports.  I love coaching.  It's a stress release for me.  Coaching offers one of the few times that I can be fully present with others.  I'm immersed in the moment. 

My wife and I have hard drives filled with photos.  We don't always look at them as often as we'd planned.  We stumble upon the photos on our computers more often than we do the printed ones boxed in our damp basement.  I wonder why we take so many photos but rarely see them.  Professor Henkel says, "Photos are trophies. You want to show people where you were rather than saying, 'Hey, this is important, I want to remember this."  That's sad, I think.  I don't want any of my photos collections to be a presentation.  When I look at them I only want to remember the sights, sounds, and emotions of those moments.

When I'm not coaching, I'm that parent.  I have videos and stills of every Christmas pageant.  I proudly avoid the scrum of parents jockeying for territory at any given event by strategically choosing my picture-taking-position pre-event.  I take a lot of pictures.  On a good day, the tally of pictures are a photo journal of gifts received.  They are snapshots of grace for which I'm thankful..  On a bad day, the pictures represent desperate attempts to hold onto these passing moments.  The fear of scarcity drives the click-clacking of the camera; me snapping frames to store in the warehouse for when these wonderful moments end.

Author Shawn Achor said that we can replicate the neurology that occurs in our brains when we journal a positive experience.  He said that our brains have difficulty distinguishing between the reality of the event actually occurring and the journaling and recollection of the event.  The same positive endorphins are released.  It's in the remembering.

I'm thankful that I can coach.  The kids often teach me more than I could possibly teach them and it allows me to be fully present.  I can remember my sons first hits, first points scored, and the boy that said, "coach, this is the greatest day of my life." 

Pictures can draw us into a moment we experienced or help us imagine a new one.  Yet, pictures will never be a substitute for the real thing.  They'll never replace the opportunity for us to be real, wholly present, and completely immersed in the joy the of moment.  Imagine that.   


  1. I've always loved this poem by Wendell Berry called, The Vacation

    "Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
    He went flying down the river in his boat
    with his video camera to his eye, making
    a moving picture of the moving river
    upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
    toward the end of his vacation. He showed
    his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
    preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
    the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
    behind which he stood with his camera
    preserving his vacation even as he was having it
    so that after he had had it he would still
    have it. It would be there. With a flick
    of a switch, there it would be. But he
    would not be in it. He would never be in it."

    We've kinda stopped taking so many pictures and recording things, I think the twins kinda gave us an excuse for that, but I still feel guilty about it sometimes. I think about the few pictures we have of my Great-grandparents, etc, though and how precious those pictures are, but I'm pretty certain they wouldn't be MORE precious if we had more pictures.

  2. Powerful poem, Kelly. Thanks for sharing that.