View from Island in the Sky visitor’s center in Canyonlands

It’s been a few days since my last post – my sister, Sherie, came out to visit for four days and we were busy exploring Moab.  She left this morning, and as much as I enjoy my solitude, my tiny travel trailer suddenly felt empty after she drove off.  It was so good to see her and hang out together in such a spectacular place.  I will always remember this.

Throughout the last ten years or so of my life, I’ve found myself doing something when I am struck by a special moment – maybe it’s experiencing the beauty of a new place…or spending time with someone I love… feeling overcome with emotion when listening to a song… watching children play…driving down over a scenic pass…and the list goes on.  When I’m experiencing something that I want to imprint into my memory, that I want to be able to recall with as much richness and beauty as possible, I say to myself, “remember this.”  It is as if that conscious command causes my brain to take rich snapshots of whatever I’m experiencing in a particular moment.  I can often look at pictures and vaguely remember the details surrounding it, but I have so many rich, vivid, intense memories that I can tell long, beautiful stories about because they are moments when I’ve told myself to “remember this.”

Try it 😉

My “remember this” command also helps keep me in the moment.  Instead of reaching for my phone to take a picture of something and missing out on the actual experience of it, I am able to simply… experience it.  Pictures are nice because they help you share an experience with others, but a picture cannot replace the experience of a moment.  Pictures are ghosts of moments, but true experiences stick with you, change you.  I’m trying to capture as much as possible on film to share with you guys, but I also feel like the pictures rarely do justice to what they were intended to capture.

Sherie, in the moment.

When Sherie and I were in Canyonlands, I was walking around a scenic overpass, taking a couple of pictures.  I walked around the corner to find Sherie, sitting in silence by herself on the edge of a massive canyon.  She was experiencing the moment, so I took a picture of her “remembering this.” I absolutely love this picture.

After Sherie left this morning, I was captivated by the colors of the sunrise behind the La Salle mountains.  I ran inside to grab my camera and took shot after shot, and I found myself almost anxiously waiting for the sun to peak over the mountaintop so I could capture it.  Lola was with me, and I looked down at her and realized how caught up I’d gotten in trying to take a picture of the sunrise.  I wasn’t enjoying it, I was documenting it.  So, I put the camera down, grabbed a chair, sat with my dog, and watched the actual sunrise, sans camera.  It was spectacular. Below is the last picture I snapped.

Just before sunrise – La Salle mountains.

The little camera in our mobile devices have really intruded into our lives in a number of ways.  A few times while Sherie was here, we caught people repeatedly taking selfies in front of whatever scenic backgrounds, trying to get the perfect Instagram or Facebook shot.  It seems to me that there’s a lot of in-authenticity in that.  When pictures are so posed, filtered, retaken, not only do we miss out on the experience of whatever it is we could be having, but then the representation of the experience that we relay to others is kind of… fake.  For example, Sherie and I took Lola for a walk on the Moab-Canyon Pathway, which runs along Highway 191 and crosses over the Colorado River.  There’s a beautiful bridge over the Colorado, and ahead of us were three young people (probably in their early 20’s).  Two of them were filming a video on a phone of the third person walking slowly ahead, down the bridge.  As Sherie and I passed (and ruined their shot, I guess.. but it was a long bridge and the kid was practically crawling), they stopped, waited for us to get over the bridge, and then resumed the filming.  Afterward, the guy who was being film scurried back to the two girls who were filming to review the footage.

It just struck Sherie and I as so goofy.  Why do we do that?  Be authentic.  Outtakes are the best, anyways.  I don’t want to ever get so wrapped up in how others perceive me, or my image, or a picture, or whatever else, that I lose sight of these moments.

Moments like these, at Arches National Park…

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