With a wedding on the horizon, Jordan and I have spent a lot of time discussing how we go through life together and how we’d like to do it better.
One of the main things we talked about was that when we spend too much time together, we start to forget that there are two of us. And that can be really great at times, but we also sometimes forget to appreciate each other as individuals, with our own individual strengths and weakness and interests and tastes.
There are times when I go to bed and realize that I haven’t looked at Jordan–really looked–all day.
And so we decided to do a project. Or rather, I decided we should do a project and talked him into it. (Jordan isn’t really the project doing type). It was a photoessay project, where we each took one day of the weekend and snapped photos of each other going through every day life.
The goal was to capture the moments that might seem boring, but when you take closer look at them, are actually beautiful. And it was to live in the moment by taking pictures of the moment.
And you know what? It worked really well.
The weekend felt special. We found ourselves making time to do things we wouldn’t usually, and said things like “It’s my photo day, so I wanna do ___.” It was a little like randomly having your birthday pop up. We also made a point to do things that each of us really enjoyed–so as to capture each other in the places and moments that make us happy.
On Jordan’s day we had gin and tonics on the porch, baked pumpkin pasties, napped on the floor and then trooped back outside to drink coffee.
On mine we went out to lunch, took Chara for a hike, and organized the apartment. We kept things normal–part of the project was to find beauty in some of the more mundane aspects of life–but we also were a little more purposeful about playing to each other’s interests.
I was surprised that it didn’t feel more awkward–we both tend to be uncomfortable in front of cameras. But except for the occasional awkward smile, it was just fun to have an excuse to pay so much attention to each other.
For Jordan a lot of it was a photographic learning experience, as he hasn’t messed around with my camera much. But even that was fun–helping him get the exposure right, and seeing his excitement when he nailed a shot. For me, it was about improving my own shooting techniques.
More importantly, the project got us talking about how we spend our time, and how aware we are of that time as it slips by.
Sometimes life goes so quickly and smoothly that it scares me–between work and obligations, days blur by in a string of hurried dinners and TV episodes and dog walks. Sometimes it feels like I’m sleepwalking through life, with only brief moments where I’m really awake–seeing the world around me in vivid color and detail.
I get the sense that a lot of people feel like that. We talk about our career tracks as treadmills, and spend our precious free hours staring at a screen because we’re so tired that we don’t want to think about anything else.
That isn’t the type of life I’m comfortable living. And while I don’t want to condemn it, because I’m sure it works for many people, I think it’s important that we recognize what happens when we get too caught up in the future or the past or the tv show we’re currently obsessed with.
To a certain extent, you stop looking around yourself and asking questions. You stop noticing the way the sun hits your partner’s hair, or how delicious the garlic smells while it sizzles in a pan, or how bright and vibrant the world is after it rains.
As kids, living in the moment comes so naturally to us. Everything is a delight–the feeling of raindrops on our skin, the taste of an ice pop, the smell of freshly-mown grass. I think as adults we’re so caught up in our heads, in our adult problems and pasts and futures, that sometimes we forget to really be alive in our own skins.
And while no life is lived fully in the moment or fully out of the moment, I think it’s important that we make sure we have a good balance of the two. And that’s what this photo project really was about–feeling alive in our own skins as we walked the dog, chatted on the phone, napped on the floor, and gobbled up pumpkin pasties.
Being grateful for the depth and richness of our lives.