Here at The Exponent we are starting a new series one Sunday a month where we’ll share poetry.
Following the Christmas holidays, this poem by Wendell Berry came to my mind. We have so many opportunities to digitally capture our lives that sometimes it starts to feel like an obligation to get a picture or video of every event, big or small. This poem reminds me that pictures can’t replace the experience of being really present in life’s events. Sometimes it’s better to put down the phone and enjoy the moment.
By Wendell Berry
Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.
I’m sure there are other ways to read the poem. What is yours?