Monday, February 1, 2016

The Value Of Time

Photo by Jennifer Miller
Photo by Jennifer Miller

I've done it. I went the entire month of January without updating my Facebook status. I looked at my news feed most days and occasionally "liked" or commented somewhere, but I never updated my own status. No photos, random thoughts, or stuff I just had to immediately alert the virtual world to. I learned a few things that enriched my perspective on the value of time.

I found myself taking photos for the enjoyment of the moment, not to please a virtual audience. Admittedly, I took less photos in January. First off, it's kind of a blah month as far as photography for me. I don't like frigid weather, and most of the flowers and fauna I like to capture are hibernating under the shield of winter. I noticed that the few photos I did take were simply highlights of the month. There's a fishing photo of T with his first ever keeper/hatchery steelhead caught on his own, without a guide. There's another of G eating top ramen. I didn't break up the noodles, leaving them long. She asked "take my photo" while dangling one over her tongue. It's not a significant event, but it reminds me of being a kid. There's a few from an RV show, a Girl Scout event, and several from a visit to a local outdoor learning center where G and I got to hold a snake! Interestingly, many of the photos in my camera roll are posters or notices of upcoming events. By forgetting about my Facebook status, I was evidently more drawn to enriching activities to occupy my time. I realized why photography is important to me: to capture a moment worth remembering for myself, not for two hundred souls on a computer to gawk over. By only photographing important events or moments, I was more engaged in the moment.

I was focused on important tasks like school work and volunteering. It was easier to concentrate on my homework assignments when I left my phone alone and not ponder what other people are thinking of me. I'm taking English 102 which is a difficult class. I don't always understand how to apply the writing techniques from the textboook to the assignments. The clarification I do get can create more confusion. Facebook was just another thing to keep me from concentrating, so when I just forgot about it altogether I could at least do my work to the best of my mindset. I've also been volunteering quite a bit more this month. In addition to my weekly assistance in the school library, I gathered donations for G's school fundraiser, helped the PTSA write up a small grant, and organized our homeowners association annual meeting and dues notice. By eliminating virtual distractions, I was much more engaged in priorities.

I realized filling up the calendar can be enjoyable. As I look back at my calendar I see that we were busier than normal this month. Between appointments and other commitments and activities, something was happening nearly every day of the week. I'm thankful to be busy, but I definitely don't want that to overrun our lives. The day T caught his steelhead, I almost decided to stay home. I was tired and just wanted a day to relax. Luckily, I came to my senses and spent a nice afternoon on the river with my two favorite people. Plus, I got to watch my husband's eyes light up like a kid on Christmas as he yelled, "Fish on! Fish on!" On Saturday, G and I attended a Girl Scout event and visited an outdoor learning center, one right after the other. I normally only try to accomplish one event per day as I don't like being rushed. However, this time we really wanted to do both so I sucked-it-up, went to the GS Cookie Rally leaving a few minutes early to check out the animals at the outdoor center. (This outdoor center only has periodic open houses and I missed the last one.) Yes, we were worn out, but I'm glad we managed to attend both. They were fun, educational, better than I expected, and we got to hold a snake named Fluffy! I discovered I can handle a busy day without stressing, even if it's not my ideal arrangement.

So there it is. My summary with a few highlights and reasons why I didn't immediately shout out my life to social media. My time is more valuable when prioritized for, well, priorities. I'm sure this doesn't mean I'll cease posting photos and updates in the future. It means that I'm content to delay sharing my life with the virtual world.

Copyrighted 2016 by Jennifer E. Miller

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