When Emily was born, I bought a video camera.

(We really couldn’t afford it at the time but I told myself that we couldn’t afford to miss a thing as Emily said her first words, took her first steps, played with her first friends . . . but I’m getting off track here.)

It was one of those Sony Camcorders that took the compact tapes which allowed us to record for about an hour before we had to copy it off to a normal VHS video cassette. It had a small black-and-white viewfinder which let you see what you recording and how well your subject was in focus.

janeI remember driving in the country one day while Vicki was filming the beautiful scenery. Looking over to the left, I saw a stunning display of what we call here ‘Salvation Jane”–a mass of purple covering field after field in the Adelaide Hills.

“Wow! That is amazing! Look at all that beautiful purple.” I said to the videographer to my left.

“It’s not purple,” she declared quite matter-of-factly. Then, realising what she said, she dropped the camera and we both realised that she had been looking only through the small, monochrome viewfinder. In closing her other eye, she totally couldn’t see the beauty that was purple-covered hills in the summer sun.

How often do we miss the beauty of the world around us, the details of life, the amazing things passing by because we fail to look beyond our small, low-res viewfinder that is created by our environment, our traditions, our worldview, our beliefs?

How often do we close our eyes because we’re straining to catch the perfect shot, or make sure we aren’t missing out on what’s happening in that small window in front of our eye?

Last night as I was driving down the hill towards home, I witnessed the most amazing sunset. The sun was a perfect, huge orange ball and it ever-so-slowly settled into the sea beyond the harbour, I was breathless and speechless at the same time. It was awe inspiring?

My first instinct was to pull out my phone to capture this moment on the little 5″ screen.

But then I remembered the purple fields and how easy it is not to see when you let capturing the moment get in the way of the experience.

So I sat, watching until the fiery ball dropped below the horizon and the bright orange sky turned pink, then purple, then hazy blue, grey, then black.

No, I can’t show you a photo of that sunset. To be honest, you’ve seen enough of these anyway.

If I were to tell you about it, however, you would see my eyes light up and I would get quite emotional as I did my best to share this moment with you.

And that’s something that technology cannot replicate.

And that’s why we need sometimes–often–to ditch the tech and soak in all the wonder we can. Because what life is all about cannot be contained in a memory card, or on a tape.

Make Your World Beautiful

On my drive to work earlier this week I was amazed to find three trees in the median strip of Peachey Road had, overnight, been ‘blanketed’ in warm, colourful, knitted quilts. And not just the trees but the signposts of the street signs nearby as well.

I have no idea who thought of this novel art form, or who did the actual knitting and sewing together of the coloured squares and decided the finished blankets would look great displayed on the trees and signs in the middle of the road. I must admit, I thought of an elderly lady with numerous feline companions when I first saw it. But, regardless of whose handiwork this is, it seems to me to be meant as a gift to the community—a beautiful expression that was intended to make the world beautiful (at least this corner of it).

And this person should be applauded for their gift, however small or eccentric it may seem. They have done what they could.

It brings to my mind the question: What am I doing to make my world a more beautiful place? I know I won’t be doing any knitting any time soon. I may do some painting. I may dig in my garden. I may make somewhat-beautiful music. These are all things well within my reach.

But how many smiles can I give? How many encouraging words can I say? How may I make living in the immediate vicinity of Jon a more beautiful experience? What can I—we— do here and now in this place to make our world beautiful?

Any suggestions?  (Note: Comments containing the words “paper bag” or “cover your head” will be deleted.)