Who has time for a blog post on Christmas Eve?! Not me, really–I should be home cooking–but I wanted to share something I read last week that I think is especially appropriate for this season. As I’m sure I’ve said before, when I’m on the elliptical machine at the gym, I can’t process heavy-duty reading, so mostly I read whatever is there–“People,” “O,” and, last week, “Rolling Stone.” That particular issue of “Rolling Stone” was old–it was from 2012, but there was a good article in it about Paul McCartney that I really enjoyed.
Here is the part that caught my eye. McCartney was talking about his father, a jazz trumpeter and amateur pianist, and how he remembered lying on the floor, listening to his father play. He says, “There’s no recordings of my dad, but my soul’s camera has got it.” “My soul’s camera”–isn’t that a beautiful image? I’m not a very good photographer; and most of the time, when I find myself facing a particularly beautiful sunrise, or in the middle of an especially picturesque walk on the battlefield–or Henry is looking unusually cute–I have the same two thoughts, right in a row: “Wow–I should take a picture;” and “Oh, a picture could never get it.” And so I don’t bother; I just try to soak it all in and remember it. According to McCartney, that’s my soul camera at work; and thinking about it, it’s a camera I want to try and use more often.
We live in a world where everything, every moment, is photographed and shared–and don’t get me wrong, I love seeing people’s pictures and I enjoy sharing my own, too. But somehow, sometimes, I feel like we substitute taking pictures–preserving and sharing the moment–for actually seeing and experiencing the moment, with no camera lens intervening. Because, most of the time, the visual image is only a part of the whole experience–and sometimes it’s only a small part; it doesn’t include the smells, the tastes, or the sounds; and it can’t begin to capture what I am thinking, what I am feeling.
But my “soul camera” can. In my view, this images points to the way in which our memories are capable of storing so much more than just a picture. Instead, they can hold every aspect of an experience, such that we can call up a precious moment not just in front of our eyes, but in our hearts, in our noses, in our ears, enabling us not only to remember but really relive the experience in a vibrant, rich way. This holiday, when I am tempted to take so many pictures [and certainly will take many pictures], I also want to remind myself to use my soul camera, and store the special moments away in all their fullness and richness, so I that I have them for all my senses, not just for my eyes.