The Art of Being

My wife and I attended a niece’s wedding this past weekend and, as is my practice, I carried my trusty Leica camera to chronicle the happy event. Yet something happened during the ceremony that reminded me of the sacredness of the service. Of course, life’s big events are the very epitome of photo-ops, but as I was clicking away it dawned on me that it was more important to witness the event than to photograph it. After all, I was not the official wedding photographer, just a proud uncle of the bride.

And today I stumbled upon another blog that captured the same sentiment as it relates to our use of technology: “One way that technology degrades us, in the words of philosopher Martin Heidegger, is ‘forgetfulness of being.’ With technology, we cut ourselves off from the moment, from physical presence, from reality itself. Rather than really experiencing something we distance ourselves by filtering the experience through a little device.” Uh oh.

The very ubiquity of portable gadgets seems to encourage their frequent use, no matter how inappropriate. And don’t even get me started on other people’s dumb use of smartphones in such places as movie theatres. As Albert Einstein observed: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” I usually strive to keep technology in its proper place but even I occasionally need a reminder that practicing the art of being is the very picture of propriety.