"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Mind's Eye

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the mind's eye as:
The ability to imagine or remember images or scenes.

Saturday, I was at the Indianapolis Zoo marveling at the giraffes when I noticed a young family approach the viewing area. The dad said to the four-year old, “Stand by the railing so I can get a picture of you with the baby giraffe.” After a hurried pose and picture, the family promptly moved on. Not one of them looked more than 10 seconds at the remarkable creatures. They have a picture to remember the giraffes, but did they really see them?

I guess I noticed this because when Hubby and I left for our road trip on Friday, I forgot to pick up my phone and camera from the coffee table. I was wishing I had my camera, but after the trip, I was so glad I didn’t take it. I captured the pictures and memories in my mind’s eye.

I’ve always been one to have the camera handy. Photography was an interest passed down from my dad. I take pictures all of the time. I guess I realized, while we're so busy taking pictures and getting the right shot, we’re also missing out.

Without my camera, I spent time at the zoo taking extra long looks at the animals. I stood 4 feet from a sleeping rhino and wanted to rub Lubriderm on his thick, cracked, wrinkled skin. I touched a shark. (If I had my camera, I would have been the one taking pictures of my family touching the sharks, I wouldn’t have done it). I observed three cheetahs napping together and found myself in amazement over their perfect, perfect, perfect spots and thick furry tails. I spent the time taking pictures through my mind’s eye. I remember the details so vividly. I also noticed my other senses working—my sense of smell, feeling the warm sun on my skin, and the crunching dry leaves under my feet. The sky was so blue!

I guess we're so rushed in this fast-paced world that we tend to do the “stand there and let me get a picture” and move on. We want to show that we’ve been there, done that.

It seems to me that our mind’s eye is one of the most important tools in writing. Writers are detail and quirk hunters. We tend to watch people more closely and pick up quickly on body language. Even though they say “a picture speaks a thousand words”—there’s a few “words” you won’t see if you don’t get the shot with your mind’s eye.

What do you think?

I would love to hear from you.

Between you, me and the gatepost,



Sandra Orchard said...

Oh, Loree, I can so relate to your experience. As my children got older and I was no longer the "keeper of the camera" I found myself taking so much more in and lingering to watch. On the other hand, when surveying scenery through a camera lens I often pick up interesting details I'd missed while surveying the broader panorama. And having a few pics definitely help me to remember a trip better. But taking the time to absorb what the camera misses--the smells, the taste of the air, the tactile, the sounds are key for the writer. :-)

Jessica R. Patch said...

I must agree, when I'm not clicking pictures, I study what's around me more and take it all in. I don't have to worry about getting everyone positioned just so, and truth be told they probably enjoy our outings more as well.

Excellent post today!

Loree Huebner said...

Sandra: I think from now on, I will limit my picture taking on special occasions. I had such a great time and really enjoyed seeing, touching, feeling, without a camera to hinder the moment.

Jessica: I know, as writers we are always studying...with or without the camera. I've learned a big lesson on Saturday.

Sandra and Jess, thanks for stopping in!

Brandi said...

The world does seem to move at a faster pace, and we've lost the ability to savor the moments. It's great that you got a chance to slow down and marvel at God's creative work. Whenever I see the different animals at the zoo, I am reminded of just how much God loves and nourishes variety.

Keli Gwyn said...

I think it's easy to get so wrapped up in capturing a memory for posterity's sake that we fail to savor the experience in the here and now. There are times I like to hand of the camera to others for that reason and immerse myself in the moment.

Loree Huebner said...

Brandi: We do get lost in the ability to savor the moments. I've got to say, God has made some magnificent creatures! He also made autumn appear overnight! On the way down, hardly any leaves had changed. On the way home, fall had fallen! The trees were on fire. The colors were radiant!

Keli: I agree that it's easy to get wrapped up in capturing the moment...I will be handing off the camera more often now.

Brandi and Keli, thanks for popping in!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

You're so right! Reliance on a photo capturing the memory makes us weak at really capturing it in our minds.

Next time I forget my camera I'm not going to be sad, but grateful for the opportunity to really study things around me!

Heather Sunseri said...

It's amazing what we can find when we slow down and take in our surroundings. Love this post, Loree!

Charlotte Sannazzaro said...

While I do like to take photos, mainly to show loved ones what an experience or place is like, I'm lucky now that my husband is a very enthusiastic photographer. Nowadays he takes most of the shots while I am free to absorb.

The types of tourists you describe are sad - they only want the proof they have been somewhere (whether that be a photographic souviner or a physical one), rather than taking the time to truly experience it. Surely being fully emersed in something is far superior to pointing to a distant memory afterwards.

I agree it's very important for writers to be present in the moment. It's hard to keep your senses open when you're tired or distracted, but our mind's eye (and ears etc) are really a treasure trove.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I spent much of my young adulthood without a camera, so now I appreciate the photos that I take. But I do agree with you that there is a balance to be struck between capturing the memory and living the moment!

Loree Huebner said...

Eileen: It was so freeing to not have to get every camera shot.

Heather: Absouluely! We need to slow down and take in our surroundings.

Charlotte: My kids are becoming the picture takers...and I'm going to let them so I can be free to absorb - as you put it.
I was just shocked at people not even taking a minute or two to look at the animals. Even when I have the camera in my hands, I take in the surroundings.

Rosslyn: I agree. We must find a balance between capturing and living the moments.

Eileen, Heather, Charlotte, and Rosslyn, thank you all so much for stopping by and chiming in!

Michelle Teacress said...

You've made a good point. I need to stop and take things in more often, too. But I admit, the actual photo helps me pull up long forgotten experiences. I guess I'm a visual learner.

Melissa K Norris said...

Sometimes we just need to slow down and really observe the world around us. As a writer, I find myself studying people in public places more and more. Trying to find nuggets of reality to make my novel seem more realistic.

Thanks for this reminder.

Sarah Forgrave said...

What a great reminder, Loree. I needed to read this today! :)

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi Loree! You are so right! When we have the camera in our hands, we do miss out on a lot. Thanks for sharing :-)

Loree Huebner said...

Michelle: I agree that photos do help us pull up long forgotten experiences. I can look at a photo and remember a sunset or a moment in my past as if it were yesterday. We just need to tune in more and not just capture the moment.

Melissa: Those nuggets of reality are so important to observe for our writing.

Sarah: So glad it was "a needed to read"! I love when I get one of those too.

Gwen: I love taking photos but seeing that family just opened my eyes a bit. Like Rosslyn brought up, we need to find that balance between capturing and living the moments.

Michelle, Melissa, Sarah, and Gwen, thank you for coming by and commenting!

Jayne said...

Absolutely agree. I remember the moment, when the children were still little, that I put down the video camera and decided to stop using it. I realized that I had spent way too much time trying to capture not only a moment, but a whole series of moments without ever really seeing what was going on.

I haven't taken a video in years. I do try to keep the camera around but often don't use it. Then... there's always the phone. ;)

Deana said...

I have to say, being a big observer myself, I always forget my camera. I guess I am the complete oposite because I stare at these things till my eyes are blurry but then I'm bummed afterward because I don't have a picture to show for it. Thanks for giving me such a refreshing way to look at the way I do things:)

Stacy Henrie said...

Love this thought. I'm guilty of "looking" at beautiful things, but not always "seeing." Great post.

cweaks said...

I agree. Sometimes we just have to slow down and take it all in. I love taking photos, but I make sure to burn the images into my mind's eye. Pictures are wonderful, but there is nothing like stopping and taking your time to really see a sunset or a flower blooming or the ocean rolling toward the shore. XOXO

Jessica Nelson said...

That's so sad. It's hard for me to pry my kids from the animals sometimes. As for picture taking, my husband is an avid photographer so I actually feel nuts sometimes when he wants to take a million pics. lol

Anonymous said...

Loree, my comments seem to get eaten, but I'm going to try again. :)

I love photography, too, and the joy of a great photo is priceless. I feel sad though when folks don't stop to fully appreciate "the moment."

You tickled me with your comment about the Lubriderm and the rhino. :)

Loree Huebner said...

Jayne: I don't take too many videos anymore. It's funny how that moment to put the camera down hits us. BTW-I answered your question on my last post. I just saw it today.

Deana: Even if you don't have the camera...we have the memory in our mind's eye. Back in the old days, people didn't have many pictures. They cherished the memories and told stories to go with one single picture.

Stacy: I think we've all been guilty of "looking" and not really "seeing".

Charissa: I second your comment - we really do need to take time to watch a sunset, a flower bloom, or the ocean roll in toward the shore.

Jessica: My kids are the same. They love watching the animals...and I love watching them watch the animals! Photography can be an obsession - hey, I know.

Cynthia: The rhino was awesome. He just laid there in the dust and didn't have a care in the world. Every time he snorted, dust flew everywhere! His skin was so cracked and dry...it would have made a good commercial.

Jayne, Deana, Stacy, Charissa, Jessica, and Cynthia, thanks for popping in and leaving your wonderful opinions. I enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

Ron aka TheOldGeezer said...

My old minds eye is cluttered with 65 years worth of snap shots. I wish there was a way to erase some of them but I guess I'm stuck with them til death do us part. :-(

Have a Nice Day :-)

Loree Huebner said...

Geez: haha! So true! Thanks for stopping in!