Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just put down the camera. Just put it down.

It's really easy for those of us who are getting our groove on with this decluttering/dejunking/anti-hoarding thing to lose the forest through the trees. It makes a lot of sense. We've spent a long time buried under so much junk that we can't see our lives through the piles of stuff. We want to look up and see something other than clutter. 

Some nights I'm so determined to make more of a dent in what's left of the hoard that I end up spending the whole night organizing or decluttering. Have you ever gotten so enthralled with getting rid of stuff that you actually forget to spend time on the hobbies, the family life, the relaxation, the things that motivated you to declutter in the first place?

In life it's easy to miss the big picture. Today we had a very special event in DC. The hubs and I took off work to go downtown to see it. Between the two of us we had four cameras (if you count the phones). Of course, as soon as I saw it, I put my camera up to my eyeballs and started taking pictures and videos: 
The NASA space shuttle Discovery made its final flight today. After strapping the shuttle to the back of a modified Boeing 747, they flew it from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida up to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's annex outside of DC. But to give our town a treat, NASA took the shuttle on a 40-minute fly-over of the National Mall and northern Virginia.

The hubs and I are big fans of the US space program so we were completely psyched to see this. We spent the weekend before researching the best places to see the shuttle. And what did I do as soon as we spotted it? I put a camera up to my eyes. 

The shuttle made three laps around the National Mall before departing for Dulles airport in Virginia. I spent the entire first lap with a camera up to my eyes before I realized that my husband wasn't taking any pictures. Any at all. So I put my camera down and started actually *watching* the amazing sight before my eyes. And you know what? I think I appreciated it a lot more when I could look at it with my own peepers instead of a narrow lens. 

In the end he did stop to take a few pictures and videos but only after he'd gotten his fill. I'm thrilled that we have those so that years from now we can show our kids and tell them about the time we watched the space shuttle get flown over the Capitol. But I'm so glad I looked up and really, really looked at it. 

So when you're decluttering, don't forget to stop every once in a while and appreciate what you've accomplished. Stop and go back to those hobbies or those yoga sessions even if you're not done cleaning off that bookshelf. Put the camera down and look at the space shuttle with your own eyes. You'll probably never get to see it again. 

And yes, I really was just trying to figure out how I could get away with writing a post on a decluttering blog about going to see the space shuttle. I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures and video as much as I enjoyed being on the National Mall today.

And if you're wondering how it is we were that high up -- visit the Old Postal Service Tower next time you're in DC. Until the Washington Monument's earthquake damage is repaired, it's the tallest building in Washington that's open to the public.


  1. YESSS with the analogy of the space shuttle-plane adventure to decluttering. EXCELLENT! I give you a virtual high five!

    But anyhow, I totally get what you're saying. I used to take my camera every freaking place I took the boys because I was worried I'd miss something photo-worthy. I never enjoyed those outings. Now I take it every now and again, but mainly just try and enjoy the moments. I'm glad you were able to find a lovely little life lesson is such a fun event!

    1. Hi five back!

      It's really interesting to hear you say as a parent that you're finally okay with not taking loads of pictures of your kids even though they're still really young! Most parents I see around here constantly have an iphone pointed at their kids. We take pictures because we're afraid of losing the experience of them as kids, but not only are we missing the experience when we hide behind a lens -- how many of us really go back and look at the pics anyways?

  2. I agree completely with Megyn above.It's sometimes hard, because I love photography, but I don't want my life to be a hunt for the perfect photograph, always looking through a lense. It reminds me of a trip I took in Cambodia, to see these rare river dolphins. As I was trying to catch them on film, the boy who took me to the river with a boat, said: "It's along trip to make just to get a photo of a dolphin". Because it had been many uncomfortable bum-numbing hours on a bus to get there from the capital city. I put down my camera, and just enjoyed the wonderful river and the splashing of the dolphins. I realized a blurry picture was not worth wasting this moment... I was there, didn't need a pic to prove it.

    1. "It's along trip to make just to get a photo of a dolphin." What a great way to put it! We do these things for the experiences and the feelings. The photographs often get lost or deleted anyways. Best to try and remember the experience. I'm glad you were able to enjoy the dolphins. It sounds like it was a fantastic trip!

  3. That is SUCH a good reminder! I have definitely forgotten to look up for long periods of time before and who cares if we have simplified, hoard free lives if we never enjoy them?!

    1. It's amazing how easy it is to forget the real reason we're doing all of this. You'd think DNA were really spelled ADD!

  4. Great post! Loved the pictures.


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