Be Here Now – unfiltering your experiences

A few years ago I was at a Melanie C concert and there were the usual 1/4 of the audience recording cellphone video they will never watch.

Mostly they were recording the hands and cellphones of other people recording the same thing. All were standing within 30 feet of the stage.

Picture this, there were fewer than 300 people there. We were all within a couple of dozen feet of a Spice Girl. I tried not to blink, I was having so much fun. But 25% of the audience wasn’t watching her belt out her songs, they were watching a 2-inch monitor on their phone as its electronic eye watched the show for them.

At one point, Melanie said that it used to be that a show only happened in that moment for the people in that space and that made it special. She asked quite politely that everyone put their cameras and such away for just the one song to make it special. It was quite a moving moment and the song was lovely.

But don’t take my word for it, you can track down the video from the people who didn’t shut off their phones.

One song. They couldn’t do it for 4 minutes.

Or they were so removed from the experience that they didn’t even get that the request was for them. How could they? You don’t pay attention when the TV tells you to shut it off.

Be here now.

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I went to Burning Man many years ago and before I set off a friend asked me what kind of camera I was taking. None was the answer. “But, but, but… !!!”

I didn’t want to take a camera. I went to the Sub-Genius end of the world in 1998 with a video camera and forever regret that I let a camera filter my experience. That lens removed me a step from an amazing experience that only a blessed few zealots made it to.

I wanted each moment at Burning Man to be its own. To not be thinking of this or that or when to snap a pic or how to frame it. I wanted to live the moment completely, with no plan of how to represent it in my photo album later.

Be here now.

As it turned out, there were people there with cameras. They took pictures of stuff I saw. And they even took pictures of me!

One of our group that year was doing a photo essay of the event. My instinct to not take a camera (or, as I put it, “work the event”) was confirmed when I saw her holding her camera one night, looking lost. She looked handcuffed to the camera and she was not having the free experience she had wanted.

She took pictures of me, too.

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I once got amazing seats to Stomp – 4th row. They had done a number using matchboxes as make-shift maracas and they scattered the matches all over the place. A couple of minutes later they were doing tap and I smelled something strange. I then realized that I was smelling sulfer from the matchsticks they were dancing on.

I will remember that fondly as a theatre experiences that expresses the power of the medium.

Be here now.

*

Events should be absorbed and interpreted. Absorb, then interpret.

If you try to do both at once, all you are really doing is taking dictation.

They say the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but what of examination without living?

Be here now.

Be in the moment. Be in the unique experience.

If you are at live theatre or a concert or a sporting event, think of how it will never again exist the way it does at that moment, never from that specific angle & distance of you to the spectacle.

That moment exists for you alone.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people worked their asses off so that you could have that. That moment is yours.

Don’t throw it away by texting “thking of wine at intermiss”.