Featured, Gear and Tech, Travel Narrative

Going Camera-less: The Persistance of Memory

This is my current Facebook profile photos.  Who, me, obsessed with taking pictures?

This is my current Facebook profile photo. Who, me, obsessed with taking pictures?

I made a bold move on a recent trip: I left my camera at home.  After thinking about technology and how it effects the way I travel, I decided to see what it was like to give up at least one of the three devices-to-which-I-am-addicted.  Thus, my iPhone came along, and so did my Macbook.  But the dSLR camera typically slung over my shoulder hung out at home, cozy it its bag on my home office desk.

I shared this plan with several friends, both online and offline, and many of them were not supportive of this plan.  Well, not not-supportive.  Skeptical.  The one thing that almost everyone said was some form of:

Without my photos, I’d feel like I’d have no memories of my trip.

On about my second day of the camera-free trip (you know, after I stopped shaking from photography withdrawal) I came to a realization.  In my 33 years of life, I’ve accumulated many amazing memories.  And I don’t have photos of any of them.

You see, my memories aren’t only visual.  I can take a photo of an amazing dish or meal that I enjoyed, but I won’t be able to taste the sweetness of the honey or feel the crunch of the flaky crust.  Also not pictured: the dinner conversation with my table mates.  I have many photos of the streets of Miami; in none of them can you smell the intoxicating combination of exhaust and garlic that I enjoyed with my windows rolled down; nor can you hear the beat of the music blaring from the used car lots.  I have one very dull photo of a rather boring looking community hall on Prince Edward Island; no where in the photo is the sound of a hundred people singing along to fiddle music, or the feeling of the floor boards bouncing as everyone stamps their feet in unison, or the crush and sticky sweat of the shoulders of strangers.  Not even the most talented photographer can capture that.

Will I still be traveling with a camera?  Of course.  Not only do I ‘have to’ in order to provide a visually enjoyable experience for you, dear reader, but to be honest, I like taking photographs.  It makes me happy, gives me a purpose, and provides a different way to look at the world.  But I no longer think it is the only way to travel.  And I do not fear that, should I miss a shot, I’ll lose a memory.  Because as long as I have my other four senses, sight take a back seat from time to time.

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