Last night my church hosted our annual Carols by Candlelight. The event draws thousands of people and culminates with a large fireworks display.
This year the fireworks were spectacular, bursting into a clear sky in front of a full moon. I was standing at the back of the crowd, and wandered along the perimeter of the oval as the sky was lit by the dazzling colours. I must confess, my immediate instinct as they started was to get my camera out to take a photo, but as the thought registered, I looked out across the crowd and saw a sea of people with the glow of mobile phones reached out towards the sky.
Was it not enough just to see with their eyes?
I sometimes wonder how much we miss by being so consumed with capturing every moment. I once heard a story about a well-known musician who was giving a small concert. He announced at the beginning that there were to be no mobile phones, no recordings and no pictures taken; not only that, but this was going to be a one-off performance. The audience, knowing that they had this moment, and this moment only, to enjoy the performance, found themselves mesmerized by the music; engaged on a level that they otherwise never would have been.
How often do we view the world through the lens of a camera, and never really take the time to really see it with our own eyes?