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Why I don’t just “live in the moment”

Somewhere along I-80 in Utah

It seems a popular thought to “live more in the moment”. I agree that we spend too much time on our phones, checking out the ups and downs of other people’s lives. And by doing that we let our own pass us by. But I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon of the thought that we should be fully in the present instead of in our future or past.

Revisiting photographs of previous trips and planning new adventures is one of my favorite pass times. A few years ago I kept seeing articles that declared research shows you remember more from a trip if you are not taking pictures all the time.

Well, as a former photographer, taking pictures is what helps me remember. It’s more than just having a snippet of a trip frozen forever. It makes me focus on what I am looking at and why I like it so much and want to keep it forever. Perhaps that’s why I don’t get the best pictures all the time. I focus on wanting to remember the scene more than the composition.

Of course, I also spend probably more time than most looking back at my old pictures. I swear if Facebook ever changes the way they let you do albums, I’m going to be in trouble. Is it weird that I creep my own Facebook page – probably so? But I love to relive moments of the past. And yes, that takes me away from the current moment. But I love to collect memories.

In addition to documenting the trip through photographs, I also help cement those memories in my mind by looking forward to and planning adventures.

Scouring the internet by reading blogs, searching Instagram hashtags for photos from real people who have been there, and researching park websites and guidebooks are ways I get excited about a trip.

And yes, I know some might say this takes away from my experience. It takes away by giving me preconceived notions of what to expect. And maybe it does. But the act of seeing and knowing what to experience helps raise anticipation.

Another popular ideology I do not quite subscribe to is making your trip about the journey and not the destination.

With all that excitement and anticipation about the destination, I don’t want to postpone myself from getting there. Plus sometimes, time availability and energy can impede making the trip about the journey.

When planning my last trip across the country, I asked for advice on tackling a three-day road trip. Several people commented, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” And true, the journey is a great part of the trip. But when you have only one week of vacation and 5,000 miles to go, you don’t have time to stop and enjoy the sights along the way.

Believe me, I would love to make it about the journey. And even though van life is something I would love to do in the future, exploring everything you pass can be exhausting.

If you have the time and energy to go slow and enjoy the journey, then yes, you should absolutely do that. But for many people, time is a major constraint.

Living in the moment is great, but also giving the past and future space in your head is nice. This allows you to fill those in-between thoughts with joy. While you are living in the moment, it can be overwhelming to focus on just one thing. Thinking back to the past and forward to the future, gives you happiness.

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