My dad came to visit us here in Japan last week. As the highlight of his trip, I drove him to Nikko, which has a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation and is almost ludicrously full of gorgeous shrines and temples.
He’s a shutterbug, so he needed to take his time taking pictures of everything. I’ve already gotten all the shots I’m ever going to need of the place, so this left me free to amble and take in the visuals and the energy.
I find that when I’m photographing something, I’m not able to relax and really experience it. There’s always a rather large portion of my attention that’s pulled into planning and composing the shots.
So it’s often nice to consciously make the decision not to attempt to record an experience, in order to actually experience it fully. Strange notion these days, I know.
This left me free to do some people watching as well. A real international crowd there; all kinds of languages to hear and try to identify. It was fun.
As well, it was reminder of what the new Western human is preoccupied with these days.
It occurred to me that maybe I’m the crazy one in that I’m not running around this beautiful, ancient, historically significant site taking pictures of myself. That the first thing on my mind isn’t, “how does this incredibly decorated Shinto gatehouse in this ancient cedar forest reflect on me? How can this backdrop best serve my social media performance of self?”
If crazy and sane is simply measured by the numbers, I suppose I am the crazy one.
But still, there I was, barely a thought in my head as my notions of self were all but obliterated by the beauty and cultural weight surrounding me. I could feel awe and a deep sense of gratitude that I had the opportunity to experience this place again and the capacity to appreciate it.
All that, without a single like.