The Winter Olympics are over. I loved it all–the skiers, the sliders, the jumpers, the skaters. One day I hope to be there in person, although I’d need to get a parka and a toboggan cap and possibly a cowbell, but they’re certain to go on sale sometime in the next four years.
Some things are just better experienced in person. I learned that at the Rose Bowl Parade a few years back, so it surprised me to see this year’s head honcho filming the parade with his cellphone. From a float. As it moved down the parade route. Seriously? A gajillion volunteer hours spent selecting just the right shade of pampas grass to create a 10-foot lion’s mane, boxes and boxes of fundraising candy bars sold by ecstatic band members, and the lead dog was experiencing the day through a 4-inch screen.
We all do it. At theme parks and dance recitals, school pageants and band concerts, we jockey for position so we can capture the moment with some teeny tiny lens. And yes, it will be nice to have the event in video perpetuity, but unless you have a Jumbotron in your basement, you’ll be seeing it, at most, on a 60-inch screen, and I don’t care how many pixels you have, it will never, never be as big or grand or colorful as the real event.
Life is presented in High Definition, IMAX and panoramic 360-degree views every single day. It seems a shame to narrow your focus. Years ago, my science teacher had us watch a solar eclipse through a pinhole reflected in a cardboard milk carton contraption. Not all that majestic. Now, I realize that a real time view of the eclipse would have melted our retinas, but this is an event that brought our Neanderthal forebears to their emotional knees.
Oh sure, there are things in life you’d rather not see up close or at all (Christie Brinkley fabulous at age 60), but most of life is big and wide and beautiful and best viewed with our un-techno eyes. To be fair, I do wear contact lenses, but that’s only so I don’t run into walls, and I’ve been known to use my Mom Zoom (walking a little closer) to capture a cute photograph, but that’s as techno as I get.
It’s all about perspective. After our faraway solar eclipse lesson, my science teacher gave us a microscope gander at a drop of pond water where all kinds of tiny little multi-legged creatures were swimming around willy-nilly. I never swam in a lake again.
The Hubble telescope gives us pictures of asteroids far, far away and makes them look like they’re hovering in the treetops. That’s not helpful, either. The space they skipped is critical to my sanity. It’s what keeps me from wearing a safety helmet as I walk to my car.
Bird-watching through binoculars gives you a better look at the individual feathers, but you miss all that winging through the trees. A football game through binoculars shows you the kicker’s shoelaces, but you miss the arc through the goalposts, not to mention the passing hotdog vendor, which means you’ll have to get up and go fetch one for yourself.
I hope the Olympic families experienced the games firsthand in all of their full-on, wind-in-your face glory. I hope when their little Junior finished his schussing or sledding, he looked up to see their smiling faces and not just the back of their cell phones.
Just be there. Aloha.