Life Through The Lens

Life Through The Lens

How can we expect anything more than skin-deep people in a society so focused on pictures of the surface?
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Get your phone out and ready, because life is happening all around you and, if you're not careful, you might miss the opportunity to catch that perfect Instagram post.

Hold your camera in front of your face every second of every day. Don’t ever let yourself be caught off guard, and be prepared to document everything. Save it for prosperity. When you get the chance, take pictures of that sunset off in the distance, video the band at the concert, and take a selfie with the famous actor. By capturing these moments you can surely live in them for forever. Any time you please, you can look back and reflect on all your amazing adventures.

Take a minute now to scroll through your camera roll and admire the precious pictures you so whole heartedly worked for. Do you remember? Do you feel that same excitement? Can you hear your laughter? Can you recall the joy?

No. You can’t, and it’s OK to admit it. The truth is, in your fight to capture the moment perfectly, you forgot to actually live it. If you can honestly say that some portion of those memories did not involve how you had to fidget with your camera beforehand, the urgency to snap the picture on time, the search for the right lighting, the time spent deliberating over the filter, and the number of likes you received, then props to you.

For the rest of you, you’re getting no judgement here. I understand that getting caught up in all of that happens and it is the society we live in. With the new (in terms of history, but maybe not in terms of our lifetime) necessity of having high resolution cameras at our fingertips, society has become mesmerized by the idea of pictures, and more specifically, sharing these pictures with our peers. As if we weren't enthralled with the wonders of a smartphone already, right? Where it previously was the hub for all the communication, planning, and google searching of our lives, we're now letting it be the only thing to experience them as well.

We have to stop and ask, what does life really look like through a lens? Well, it depends. Is your selfie game strong? Because if so, you’re probably considered conceited. Do you take a million pictures with your sorority sisters? You’re probably considered a brat. Are your pictures perfectly airbrushed, edited and captioned? Well, you’re probably a try-hard, or my personal favorite term: fake.

Truthfully, life through the lens is a judgmental one full of envy and hate. We spend a good amount of our time so focused on the lives that others are trying to portray through their 8-megapixel “iSight” camera that we aren’t enjoying our own. In some even more severe cases, we allow ourselves to succumb to the ruse as well. More interested in the long post we can write on Facebook about a family trip or an awards ceremony than the event itself, we tend to find ourselves present in body and absent in mind, which brings me back to my point: Why are we allowing the drive to capture and share our lives mask the drive to enjoy them? Why are we more concerned with portraying that we had fun at the beach than actually having fun there? Why are we more concerned with having witty captions than actually having wit?

Another pearl of truth here, I don’t know. I don’t know why we make everything a competition and why it’s all so skin-deep, and odds are you don’t either. We’ll never know how we spiraled into this corrupt and crazy world, and we’ll never know who to fully blame.

What I do know is that we can end it just as swiftly as we started it. So maybe it’s time for some re-focusing instead of auto-focusing, and the first step is pretty easy. Stop worrying about living and live. Put the camera — and we all know I mean phone — down. Be aware of what's going on around you and document it mentally instead of socially. Forget about how it looks on the outside. Experience it on the inside. Appreciate the way it feels, and smells, and sounds in addition to the way it may appeal to our eyes and the eyes of others.

When you get the chance, admire that sunset off in the distance, listen to the band at the concert, and take a minute to talk with the famous actor. See life through the perspective of your eyes instead of the one in your camera. Maybe with this small step to quit concerning ourselves with acquiring tangible proof that we had a good time, we can actually have one. A camera roll full of perfect pictures and no memories is really just empty — and what good is that for anyone?

Cover Image Credit: http://greeblehaus.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/types_of_cameras.jpg

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Meditation Is Not A Perfect Practice, But It's Still Worth Your Time

You'll thank me later.

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nczupek
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I began doing yoga a few years ago, and I instantly loved it. The combination of stretching, mental relaxation, and emotional release is amazing. It creates a sense of zen and peace in my life that I can use during the stress that comes from school, work, and everyday life. But the one part of yoga that I am not in love with is the meditation aspect.

I absolutely dread meditation. I do not know what it is, but I can never quite seem to get my mind to quiet down. No matter how hard I try, there is always a million thoughts running through my brain. "Did I finish that homework assignment?" "Am I breathing too loud? Can other people hear me?" I become so focused on other things happening around me that I just can't seem to calm down and relax.

But meditation is not about just clearing your mind and going completely blank. It is about focusing on a single thought, object, or intention and just allowing those emotions and feelings to overcome you. Focusing on one intention in your life allows you to become focused and re-centered. Meditation is not a set in stone practice, it is adaptable based on each person's needs.

There are seven general types of meditation: loving-kindness meditation, body scanning meditation, mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, and transcendentalism meditation. Each of these general types can be adapted to fit ones specific needs in that time. All seven of these meditations offer stress release options to help with daily stressors and inconveniences.

There is no perfect way to meditate. Meditation can also be as simple as just closing your eyes and simply breathing for a few seconds while focusing on one important thing in your life to help you remain grounded. There is no one set meditation type that works for all people. Some people enjoy all of the forms or even several of them, while others such as myself strictly enjoy the body scanning meditation.

The body scanning meditation focuses on scanning the body for areas of tension and to encourage the release of tension in that part of the body. Once the release occurs, the whole body can begin to relax even more. It usually starts by focusing on the toes and relaxing then moving up the legs, the torso the arms to the fingertips, and all the way through to the tip of the head.

My ideal meditation type is not for everyone. Playing around with the different types of meditations is the best way to find an ideal type of meditation that fits what the body needs. Unlike with most things, practice doesn't make perfect. Practicing the art of meditation just helps to refine the overall calm and zen that is felt.

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