Where we were, where we are, where we're going.

How can the past retain purpose if we don't articulate our reason for looking ahead?

I ask myself this one question many times throughout the day, amid moments of utter frustration and future dread, as I watch people all around me do amazing things, then produce their phones to document the event: why not enjoy the moment?

And I realize the irony here: is this not what I am doing with these prompts? Instead of baking sugar cookies with my daughter and listening to her morning music choice, I'm tucked away in our office with headphones on, writing. So why not enjoy that moment?

Why do we extract ourselves from these fleeting and Incredibly meaningful moments? Why are we driven to document? This question comes down to an updated version of the old tree-falls-in-a-forest adage: if we don't take a picture of this moment, did it really happen?

Where we can and should draw the line is purpose: why we document, what we document, and where the documentation might lead. If we do not take a moment to articulate the sensations of that documented moment, we lose our reason for extracting ourselves from these moments. The meaning of the moment we’ve just interrupted is lost.

Before we find ourselves lost in another moment, before we extract ourselves from this flow of sensation and connection, let’s consider what we should bring back from these moments, and why the articulation is important.

“We shall lose that life which remains unarticulated.”

  • Walt Whitman

The line seems to articulate intentionality. If we take the picture and move on, if we write aimlessly, if we don’t consider the meaning of the moment and why reconnecting to this documentation in the future might be important, we might lose these sensations.

How can the past retain purpose if we don’t articulate our reason for looking ahead? How can we find our way back to these sensations and take notice of more moments like this in the future?

But also,  if we start from somewhere without direction if we don't know where we're going (as I've just done with this sentence) at the very least let us articulate the reason behind the search and what has driven to search as we strive to articulate the pieces of the path: we’ll never know where they might lead, and to have a record, to be able to walk the search again will be similar to watching our favorite films or reading our favorite poems and noticing some new path, some undiscovered potential.

We don't always need to know where we're going, but without articulating our thoughts and sensations along the way, we won't know where we were, where we are, or where we might go. 

Can we truly explore the life that remains unarticulated? Or is that life lost, and is that a bad thing?

Whether we decide to turn to selfies or prompts, let's be intentional with why we're moving in the way that we are. Even if all we’re trying to do is get lost, let's articulate that journey so we can get lost again.