Telling The Story vs. Being a Part of it

Searching for a balance in storytelling versus participating in the story.

This is something I toil with frequently, so I thought I’d lay down some thoughts and see if it gets me anywhere revelational. In fact the dilemma rises to the top of my thoughts quite frequently. I’m love to find the story that seems hidden, beautiful, relevant or intriguing. I strive my best to share that with anyone who will listen. I collect objects, memories, photos, videos…anything I think might make a great story. I talk a lot once I get going. My wife can attest to that. My mouth often struggles to keep up with the meandering parts of stories I’m attempting to organize and verbalize. I’ll admit, I’m a little scattered in my approach as a storyteller. Simultaneously, I also fight to be a part of the story. I want to be in it. I want to be copying moments into my memory. But, when you can just whip out your phone and capture anything you want, it makes it tough to keep it holstered during a great moment in your life.

Let’s take a look at an example from a moment with my family.

Last night, I was playing in the backyard with our kids. We were all kinda doing our own independent activities. This was after dinner. The sun was setting, yet there was still a thick wall of heat to walk through outside. Marisa was lying down on a cushioned lounge chair, reconnecting with friends on social media; taking a little well-deserved personal time after being completely overruled by kiddos all day. I was checking the pool to see if it needed to be cleaned or treated—it had been cloudy for a week now after we shocked it from the green, murkey state it had gotten to, quickly after we first filled it. (It’s an above the ground, blow up vinyl pool…with a filter, and it’s quite difficult to manage) I digress, as usual.

Meanwhile, Jameson and Mila were taking turns on an electric, riding motorcycle that Jameson had gotten a couple years back from my mom. All of a sudden, Jameson started screaming in excitement, “Dad, we found a grasshopper come look!” Of course, I couldn’t drop what I was doing fast enough to show him the initiative that I was making my way over there. He started running over towards me and ecstatically shouting, “DAD! COME LOOK AT THIS GRASSHOPPER WE FOUND!” I felt his sheer enthusiasm and ran over to him. Together, we crept over to the front of the motorcycle and peaked around underneath the front fender. Concurrently, Mila stared on with intensity at what we were doing and made the decision to jump off the bike to get right in the middle of the action. Marisa was also making her way over to the edge of the patio to watch. Then we saw him, a medium size green grasshopper with reddish-orange accent colors. His back legs were huge! He tried his best to hide from us. He/she didn’t realize we meant it know harm. We were merely adventurers looking to explore and analyze the world around us.

Well joy ensued as we gently captured the little guy and let him crawl on us and hop off only to be picked right back up. During that time we also found another larger grasshopper that was yellow with tiny black stripes and bigger wings; a grasshopper I’m more familiar seeing in Texas. We had a blast together for this short time that felt like an entire journey together. And we were, most definitely, all in the moment together! My creative/journalist mind told me to whip out the phone and capture a photo or quick video, yet my storage was maxed out. I felt saddened that I couldn’t capture the moment visually to share with others. At the same time, it worked out good because I got to just be there and wholly involved in the story.

We often play dual roles as storytellers and active participants in the story we are telling. Finding the right balance in that scenario can be confusing. Sometimes you just can’t grab the phone, open it, let it focus and force it to take the photo before the moment is lost. And sometimes, that leaves you feeling sad that you can’t share that with others, except through telling a good old verbal story. It’s such a quick struggle conversation you have in your mind, and I guess you just have to trust your gut that everything will be ok. Other times, you interrupt the story to get the photo/video and it feels forced, or you completely ruin the moment. Then, you feel like a dick for having done that. It’s an encounter we share these days with always having a phone at our fingertips to capture the moment.

We did have Marisa grab her phone and capture the moment, so we could share it with anyone willing to experience our story. Jameson pleaded for the opportunity to also capture some photos. Often, interrupting the story for the sake of capturing it is bad. The other people involved feel vulnerable or as if you don’t value it as much. In this case, we were able to involve the kids and make capturing the moment, part of the moment.

I think my take on this whole balance of capturing the moment versus being in the moment is to just trust your gut. Be aware and make a snap decision on how to record your life’s wonderful moments. I hope you do share them and I can run across it to enjoy your take on life.