I love to hike, and since I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, I’m fortunate to get a large dose of natural scenic beauty on a regular basis. My favorite hiking destinations are the ones that reward hikers for their effort with a commanding view and breathtaking scenery. Starting early in the morning on a challenging hike to a much anticipated viewpoint is one of my favorite ways to spend a day. The anticipation of the view and then finally seeing it with my own eyes is exhilarating. For me, it’s one of those events that make me thankful to be alive.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself in recent years is that when I reach one of these viewpoints, I immediately begin taking pictures of the scene. Depending on the view, I can easily take over 100 pictures in my attempt to capture the beautiful scene before me. I don’t want to miss a single detail!
Inevitably, after several minutes at my feverish picture-taking pace, I begin to hear a voice inside of me saying, “Hey, enough pictures. Just stop, and take in the experience.”
At that point I put the camera away and just take in the experience with all of my senses. I literally feast my eyes on the scene before me, noticing shapes, colors, contrasts and myriad other details that I had missed while seeing it through the screen of a digital camera. I listen to the whooshing sound of the wind as it blows through the tops of pine trees or across the face of a rock-exposed mountain. I hear the unique sound that a river makes as water curls over a rock and collapses back on itself. There are also the tactile feelings and fresh smells of the surrounding environment that make for a complete experience. All of these things I would have missed, had I continued taking pictures.
Those hiking experiences always cause me to wonder what else I may be missing out on in my non-hiking life when I don’t stop and take in the experience. Where am I busily rushing around, forgetting to stop and enjoy the surrounding environment, event, or people I’m with? Hiking is good for me in that respect. It provides me with a mental reset, a reminder to be mindful about taking in the experience, no matter what I’m doing.
What about you? Are there areas of your life where your too busy “taking pictures” that you’re forgetting to stop and take in the experience? Start becoming mindful about what you’re doing and who you’re with. Decide now that although you’ll take some pictures along the way, you’ll also be sure to put the camera down and take in the experience as well.