Whenever we participate in a “special event” - graduation, marriage, the birth of a child, etc. - we’re often told, “Enjoy this moment, it will never come again.” How true! What we forget is that the same is true of every moment of our lives. This sip of coffee will never come again, this sunset, this rain, this smile, these tears. Why do we concentrate on what the world describes as special and ignore the special in every moment?
“Well”, we say, “we have so much else to do. We can’t spend all day smelling the roses.” What do you have to do other than live?! I’m not saying to ignore the job you do - that’s also a moment that will never come again - I’m saying whatever you’re doing in any moment should be give the attention we dedicate to special events. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When you walk, just walk.” Zazen - the main practice of our schools of Buddhism - translates as “just sit”. We’re becoming a culture - a world - afflicted with ADHD.
Modern technology gives us better ways than we’ve ever had to document moments in our lives. We take selfies wherever we go. Selfie Sticks are the newest, hottest gifts. I’m not a Ludite telling you to give up your technology and retreat to a shack in the woods. I love my technology. I wouldn’t be talking to you now without the Internet. I’m only saying that we need to be aware that we’re not replacing experience with documentation. Have you ever come home from a great vacation and had to look at your pictures to remember what you did, what you saw? Pictures used to be to share our experiences with others who weren’t there - not to show ourselves what we experienced.
Unlike some I see no problem taking selfies - as long as you experience the moment before documenting it. Also make sure of your intention in taking selfies. Are you taking them to glorify yourself and your experiences (that you’re not even experiencing)? Are you taking them to make others jealous, or are you taking them so that others can share at least a small piece of an experience that’s important to you? As in most things intent is vital in determining skillful action. Think before click.
In the Zen tradition there’s a stick called the Kyosaku - the “stick of compassion” - which is used to call monks’ attention back to their meditation when they start falling asleep or become otherwise distracted. I saw a picture the other day comparing a selfie stick to a kyosaku (which they called a “no-selfie stick). Mindfulness needs to be our no-selfie stick - and we need to be as contentious in carrying it with us as we are with our selfie sticks.