Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California
My husband and I took a day trip out to the coast on Monday. It was the only thing I wanted from him for my birthday. Our kids were away at camps and so he took the day off and we explored a few coastal spots that I had been wanting to go see. It felt nice to flee the noise of life and just go explore with the one I love.
At one point during the day we sat in our car that was parked right along the rocky shoreline and ate the sandwiches I had packed. As the sun attempted to break through the fog, we watched the various birds travel in lines along the water’s surface and marveled at how quiet the sea was that day.
At some point during our lunch a car of young college aged girls pulled up next to us. We could hear the music seeping through the car windows and then their voices spill out as they opened the car doors. One of them spoke to a loved one on her phone, letting that person know she had made a stop at “some cool nature spot” on their way down south and they were going to get out and look around and “take some pictures”. I found this funny as the “cool nature spot” was not some pull off along the Pacific Coast Highway, but was a large coastal State Park that cost ten dollars to enter and required a little winding drive down to meet the hiking trails and the ocean. But whatever, I thought it was nice that they were stopping along their journey to soak up the beauty in front of them.
As they walked out onto the rocky terrain in front of our car I noted that they were wearing not the typical hiking and exploring attire that most people were wearing when they visited this place, but instead were dressed in summer white shorts, dressy tops, flowing cardigan sweaters, and flimsy beaded strappy sandals. The three of them made their way about thirty feet out in front of our cars and then they all turned their backs on the ocean, pulled out their phones, and proceeded to stretch out their arms in front of them and spend (and I am not exaggerating) at least ten minutes snapping selfies…..each of them lost in her own selfie world, clicking a photo then bringing it to her face to see the results, then stretching her arm back out to try again. After they had completed their selfies, they took photos of each other. Then they took photos together. Then they took group selfies. My husband and I watched this all with disbelief. Well, I say we watched in disbelief but it was sort of like imagining what it would be like to see some wild animal on an African safari, or even seeing other peoples photos of wild safari animals, but then actually getting a chance to go on an Africa safari and seeing the animals for oneself and being shocked and amazed at how real they were and that you were actually seeing them for yourself. My husband and I were completely dumbfounded. Was this really happening? I cannot believe that this is actually happening!
And then they were done with “taking some photos in a cool nature spot” and walked back to the car.
And then for an additional fifteen minutes more they were buried in their phones, while the music within their car once again reverberated off the windows, inconsiderately shattering the quiet around us.
And there my husband and I sat in one of the most beautiful, majestic, soulful spots on earth completely speechless.
I will not even attempt to articulate here all that went through my mind while I watched all of this unfold. I am such a geek when it comes to observing human behavior but I fear I will sound hyper critical, judgmental, condescending if I share all of my observations here. I also fear my thoughts will reveal my age. And I confess that my own humility falters the minute I begin to think about this moment all over again. Because the truth is that for part of this story my husband and I were eating our sandwiches, enjoying the view, and scrolling through our own phone screens instead of fully absorbing the beauty around us. (Though we had no selfies to behold.)
Even though I know I have talked about it before, I will say this…
Friends, Ego is a BEAST. Sometimes he is blatantly demanding and in other ways he insidiously and subtly, and almost humorously, surfaces his head–all while protecting and defending himself in the form of some warped logic or funny little fib that makes blind fools of us all. (“We’re just here to visit this cool nature spot and take some photos.”) And now that I have had more time to think about what my husband and I witnessed, I realize that my ego is always interrupting the quiet like an uninvited intruder, asking me to give up my peaceful moment for a stretch of the arm and a snap of myself. Sometimes I long to run to some place of beauty and stand on the edge of creation where I can behold something other than myself, be reminded of how small I am, and yet how loved I am without having to obsessively work for it. But, alas, sometimes I am not fast enough to outrun myself.
Anyway, I think you probably can relate to at least some part of my story. And with that I will let you take away from it what you will. But if you take away nothing, for heaven’s sake I hope you realize how foolish it is to waste ten dollars on a selfie when it can be obtained for free.