A moment is worth a thousand words

Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots

This week, I challenge you to mark your phone as off limits. Instead, the next time you reach to take a photograph, pull out your trusty notebook, open your favorite note-taking tool, or fire up the WordPress app.  Rather than giving into the urge to take a picture, write down your impressions of the scene. Who’s around? How does the air feel? What sounds do you hear? What emotions are you experiencing?

You’d think that after writing this, I would have no trouble meeting the requirements for this week’s challenge.

You’d think that putting down the camera and just being in the moment would come easily to me.

I’d think that, if I were you.

But we’d all be wrong.

In my defence, I did say that I was just as guilty as the next person of snapping away, of cutting myself off from the event or scene or people I was photographing in my effort to get that one great shot. To capture the memory forever.

But I also said I would try to rise to the challenge. I said I would try to come out from behind the camera, put it down, and join in the moment.

It’s not always that easy. Even if it’s the simplest moment or a part of the every day.

Monday night, for example, I had to forcibly restrain myself from taking a picture and posting it on Facebook.

It wasn’t anything momentous but there was a something in the air, perhaps it was the lighting or the mood, and it transformed the ordinary into something worth capturing.

I did manage to successfully fight the urge to take that picture, though, and instead I jotted down some notes which turned into this post.

So I did capture it, just not with a camera. Mission accomplished.

It was our family’s second Games Night, a new tradition we started just last week. The first week, we played Mousetrap. It was new to us and we had fun. Yesterday, however, we pulled out the tried and true Monopoly.

Monopoly was my favourite game when I was a kid – though I knew many people who not-so-affectionately referred to it as Monotony. My son, my clone in so many ways, is like I was. He loves it and he’s good at it. We’ve actually only played it together once or twice but he was hooked from the beginning and has, I understand, played it numerous other times at school and at his after school program.

Why does he love it so much? Probably because he wins. He definitely beats me every time, and not because I let him.

But it’s the set itself I wanted to talk about here, how it looked in the warmth of our softly lit home, how it feels to play it after all these years.

We inherited our set from my grandmother and her sister. It’s old, possibly from the 30’s – it says on the yellowed instruction sheet that the Canada patent was registered in 1936.

I remember playing it with them, as a child, sitting around their dining room table.

The box is a simple white and red one with black lettering and pen and ink drawings. One caricatured man chases another past a row of houses. It smells of crumbling, aged, well-loved books. Bits of it are peeling off around the edges.

Inside, the paper money is faded and curled. The Chance and Community Chest cards are soft and worn, as are the properties. The colours of the properties themselves are darker than they are in more modern versions.

There is only one die left, and it is yellowed. We roll twice to simulate having two dice.

The white-backed board is in remarkably good condition. The golden Deluxe Edition lettering on the back is still perfect and clear, and the face is unworn.

It seems that the players’ pieces were all lost and have been replaced, though I don’t know when or by whom. I seem to remember playing with my grandparents and using the traditional little metal racing car, shoe, top hat and whatever the other pieces were. And these are in the black and white picture printed at the top of the instructions. But they are no longer part of this set.

Now, the pieces in the set are made of wood and stained or painted different colours. There is a white milk bottle, a burgundy and an orange wine goblet, a black shape and a purple one that resemble chess pieces, an orange egg cup with an egg in it and something undefinable, which is stained green.

Perhaps they were borrowed from another game. Or maybe my grandfather made them. I wish I knew.

The houses and hotels remain pristine, a testament to the strength and durability of plastic.

So why did I feel so compelled to take a picture of this set in play?

There was something about the glee on my son’s face – he was, of course, winning – but also the joy of playing with a battle-worn set. Family history, spread as it was across our modern table. The juxtaposition of the clean, white lines that is our house with the old, faded and peeling set. And at the same time, the feeling that the set somehow belongs in  this old brick house now.

My husband joined us after a while, and helped me referee our son and his slightly suspicious game strategy. Our son, meanwhile, was beside himself with excitement. He squealed, he leapt, he danced and sang. He stopped the game a few times to count his money.

I couldn’t help but smile at the old memories that came flooding back, and at the new ones we were making.

We only played for an hour or so but it was a wonderful moment in time, without cameras, without phones or video games or TV.

Just a family sitting around the table on a winter evening, playing a board game that has, so far, entertained four generations.


Other photo-less snapshots:

  1. It’s The End of the World as We Know It | JGTravels
  2. A Peaceful Sleep | A mom’s blog
  3. My Mac Boy is taking a power nap! | It’s Me! ksawme!
  4. A DPChallenge Accepted ~ I Blog For Recovery! | *Recovery Ramblins Blog Of ~ Author Catherine Lyon*
  5. A DP Challenge Accepted ~ I Blog For Recovery! | *Recovery Ramblins Blog Of ~ Author Catherine Lyon*
  6. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots | newstasis
  7. Eggs and Stars! | Blue Loft
  8. Weekly writing challenge: Snapshots | MARGARET ROSE STRINGER
  9. Picture Perfect, Captured in Words | nessasaryboldness
  10. I Saw Her Face – Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots | Reinvention of Mama
  11. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshot | Lucid Gypsy
  12. separating an | y
  13. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots | SIM | ANTICS
  14. Family Fire | Words on Life
  15. Ignore the Notifications – Go Immerse Yourself In a Book | Mod with Love
  16. Leaves of Joy | DIY Backyard Farm
  17. Snapshots from a Gym | Mary J Melange
  18. A Perfect Stranger | Drops of Magic
  19. A Moment Caught in Words | tuckedintoacorner
  20. EDDD 2; An Ominous Beginning, An Amazing End | THE WRITE PLACE…
  21. intimate portrait | coffeeandpassport
  22. No snapshots, no probs — Weekly Writing Challenge | Scribblings from the Bluegrass
  23. I Don’t Know What To Make Of This | Happy Pulse
  24. Snail Trails | Gnome Lover
  25. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots, Or: Buddhism On Market Street | polymathically
  27. DP Challenge Snapshots #1 | Paint the world with words
  28. Mental Clutter Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  29. Stealing Life | Sarah Vee
  30. Snapshot one | Insanitree
  31. of how things look | Anawnimiss
  32. DP Challenge – Snapshots #2 | Paint the world with words
  33. Solitude within Multitude | lincathleon
  34. Weekly writing Competition: Snapshots (sans photo) | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)
  35. shotshot | Stephen Chapman
  36. The beauty of a sunrise | douginmalta
  37. Snapshot: Wahine Wednesday 37 | Wahine Wednesdays
  38. The Right Lighting | Charron’s Chatter
  39. Snapshots: Recognition | Sarah Runs a Lot
  40. Urban pokelogan* | wuthering bites
  41. A King and His Kingdom | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  42. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  43. Oh Snap! | Girl On Green : Greener On The Other Side
  44. Caressed By A Cloud (Weekly Writing Challenge – Snapshots) | Simply Silent
  45. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots | Indira’s Blog
  46. The Little Kings: Daily Post Challenge | The Two Thousands
  47. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshot | 2far2shout
  48. Snapshot Poem # 5 | emilykarn
  49. A snapshot with words: chimney covered in red | Laura’s Little Things
  50. Procrastinated Views | Becoming Wildfire
  51. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots of Gold and Silver | Musings
  52. Sans Photos – Evelyne Holingue
  53. Painting a picture with words | Nothin’ But Views
  54. Anticipation | Perceptive Pot Clueless Kettle
  55. Snapshot: Words rather than a Picture (WP Challenge) | Light & Shadow
  56. Weekly writing challenge: “snapshots” | Azgsgirl’s Blog
  57. DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots (Haibun) | Bastet and Sekhmet’s Library
  58. DP Challenge – Snapshots #3 | Paint the world with words
  59. A Visit | The Adventures of Cat Madigan
  60. Snapshot of Mortality | Insanitree
  61. Commute communion | The Type Cast
  62. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshot 2 | 2far2shout
  63. Snapshots from the writing desk | Butterfly Mind
  64. Snapshots of Paris
  65. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots | Under the Monkey Tree
  66. Weekly Writing Challenge: A Mental Snapshot of Confetti | I am Woman
  67. A Thousand Years | Ashes of Roses
  68. Stop taking pictures, seriously | Never Stationary
  69. iMAGE | Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
  70. Dias Dos Literary Snapshots of Ajijic | Snowbird Soliloquy
  71. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots | The Fountain
  72. HRHDana
  73. The sound of 300 heartbeats | Mirrorgirl
  74. A Snapshot. Without A Camera. | Cupcakes & Courtrooms
  75. Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots (II) | SIM | ANTICS
  76. Snapshot of a lake in morning | Things I See and Know
  77. A Journey in Pictures and Song (or, Weekly Writing Challenge: SNAPSHOTS) | MAGGIE’S BLOG
  78. And if they don’t dance | The Type Cast
  79. DP Challenge, Snapshots: Spears for Eyes |
  80. Snapshot: Winter is Warmth. | Write Through Life
  81. Weekly writing challenge: snapshots | Azgsgirl’s Blog
  82. The sound of 300 heartbeats | Mirrorgirl
  83. Maybe You Didn’t Know This, But… | I’m Supposed to be Doing Something Else Right Now
  84. Evening with Coffee… (Snapshot!) | A Crazy Chef
  85. Snapshots | Fonts and Frosting

“Picture” is the new “World”

courtesy of justthatproductions.com

Pictures are everywhere these days. No one sees anything without first looking at it through a screen.

I’ll bet that if you look out on the street at this very moment, more than half of the people (probably closer to 90%) walking by are looking at their little screens.

That is their world. It is their perception of the world.

Is it that through globalization humanity’s concept of our planet and its vastness, its billions of people all thrusting and grabbing and moving, is just too much for our little brains to absorb? That we must, therefore, contain it, shrink it, peer at it through a manageably-sized window?

Or is it simply screen addiction?

When I was a child, Polaroid cameras were all the rage and people snapped pictures of everything, marvelling at the instantaneousness of it all. But they were also expensive and this obsession didn’t last long.

For the most part, 35 mm cameras were the norm. And disk cameras – does anyone remember those? I think my first camera was a disk camera.

Anyway, processing film was by no means instantaneous, nor was it particularly cheap and, as such, the average person did not take 20 pictures of the same scene – unless, of course, they were photographers, which is an entirely different matter.

They also didn’t take pictures of every single moment of life, capturing it forever as if memories couldn’t hold it.

Today, in the digital age, pictures don’t need to be processed and are right there, free, the moment you take them. Now it’s as though we all collectively fear mass amnesia and have to capture every second with a click. Because we can.

On the plus side, this has allowed the average person to take some truly remarkable pictures and even to capture special memories in a beautiful and frameable way. Anyone can play at being a photographer.

But on the downside, our concept of our wide world has faded, or maybe morphed, and now exists almost entirely through the small rectangular screen in each of our hands.

We no longer can go for a walk in the woods and simply enjoy our beautiful planet; instead we have to take pictures of it, at every angle, as if we were trying to capture it or tame it or own a little piece of it.

I’m as guilty of this as the next person.

I have thousands of pictures. Pictures of my son, of the trees, the sky, the moon, flowers. And in the moment, while I took each of them, I’m sure I was appreciating them and thinking of their beauty, of how special the subject or occasion was.

But can I say I was really connecting with my subject?

Was I really in the moment, living and breathing it?

I don’t think I was. I think the screen sets us apart a bit, distances us from this wonderful thing we are trying to keep forever. Perhaps it is this distance which fuels the fear of forgetting the moment, driving us to keep on snapping those picutres.

Sometimes it is better to leave the camera behind and immerse oneself in the experience. To BE rather than to capture.

Why do you need a picture of that? Can’t you remember it? And if you take a picture, will you experience the moment through your other senses, or will they fade away? Will you hear the sounds, smell the scents, or will you be so engrossed in fitting the scene perfectly into that rectangular screen, that everything else fades? That you fade, because you are no longer a participant?

I think it’s time that we try life without so many pictures.

Let’s leave our cameras behind, fight the urge to capture everything, and go out into the world, engage all our senses and be in the moment, without pictures.

Let’s go out and find the World again.

Go on, try it. I dare you. I’ll do it too.

I guarantee you will not forget what you see.


An Opaque Perspective on the 21st Century, or, Together in the Clouds (paxlupo.com)

Today’s daily prompt directed us to choose the 4th and 14th words from another blog to fill in the blanks in the following phrase, “ ______ is the new ______”. Technically, we were supposed to choose our favourite blog, but that’s a hard one. I don’t think I can pick a favourite. So, I just worked my way down the list on the right side of my site until I found a phrase that inspired me.