I watched a girl run back and forth from the ocean as it washed up on shore and retracted back. If you were to just see her and her alone you would think she was playing with the ocean’s edge. If you were to zoom out you would see another girl filming her, over and over again, trying to get just the right look for the picture or the video or whatever they were uploading to social media.
I watched them “do over” the picture multiple times, wondering what the caption would say, probably something to the effect of “playing at the ocean’s edge,” or “so happy to be at the beach.” The funny part to me in all of this was that neither seemed to be true. The girl wasn’t playing with the ocean’s edge, she was repeatedly trying to get the perfect looking picture. And I’m not so sure they were happy to be at the beach because they barely noticed it due to looking at their phones the entire time I watched them, even while they were walking. The vastitude of the ocean lay restless beside them and they barely noticed until they wanted it in the picture.
I got frustrated watching them. I got frustrated because they weren’t really living but giving the impression to someone somewhere that they were. I thought about the people who follow them on Instagram or Facebook who see the pictures of them “enjoying” the beach and wondered if those people would be jealous or feel lame for not adventuring out like them. I thought of people being jealous of a false reality and I got frustrated. I got frustrated because I know I’m one of those people who sees other people’s pictures and think I need to do more with my life, now wondering if those people really live out what they post or if they just repetitively try to get the perfect shot to make it look like they are really living.
I got frustrated too because the honest truth is, I have been one of those people who posts a false reality. It’s not malicious or intentional, it’s just too cool of a shot and I want to be admired for it. So perhaps when I got frustrated with those girls, I also got frustrated with myself. There is grace for them and there is grace for me, but I don’t want to abuse that grace by continuing the false reality.
I love capturing life, but it’s easy to get too caught up in capturing it that you begin posing it instead of living it. I want to really live and hopefully capture some memories along the way, not miss out on life happening around me because I’m trying too hard to get the perfect picture.
I went for a walk on the beach and I picked up sea shells. I stared at the water and the shells in my hand. I dug my feet in the sand and wrote words with my toes. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I took a picture in my mind. The water sparkled and I smiled, not because there was a camera but because I was really living.