Problem: Raindrops on Windows
Originally uploaded by danielgreene.
I noticed a problem right away when I sat down in the boat: the only way to get a photo of anything outside was to focus manually; otherwise, the lens would automatically focus on the raindrops. I found myself worrying about all the money I’d spent on the cruise, camera, lenses, excursion– only to be unable to take any photos! (I didn’t even realize yet that there was an upper deck.) Apparently, the good people who run this excursion know about all that (money spent and hopes high), so they are kind enough to squeegee the windows so you can get those coveted photos.
My frustration, though, made me think about the point of vacation. Is it really about the money spent and the things seen? I mean, it is about seeing things, if you’re a sighted person, but it must be about more than that, no? If that’s all it is, it seems petty to me somehow. Yet there is a reality to all the money I spent and all the reading I did and all the practice I did to prepare myself to capture certain images with my camera. Is a vacation like a hunting expedition? Are the photos the “catch” one brings back to say, “See what a big man I am! I spent a lot of money on fancy equipment, travelled the world, and shot these photos?” Or, “Look what I can see with all my money?” It strikes me as ugly. Yet, if going on vacation is not about what you can see, what is it about? What you can smell, taste, touch, and hear? Is it all about exciting the senses? Do we work all year at our jobs, save up our money and vacation time, buy our flights and cruises and excursion tickets– just to thrill our senses? Is there anything spiritual about it? Or is it impossible to have a spiritual experience without exciting at least a few of your senses? I mean, aren’t the most wonderful experiences we’ve ever had about what we saw, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted? Or is there more to life than that? And if vacation is not about perceiving different things with out senses, what is it? Your viewing this photo is dependent on exciting your optical nerves, and reading this text is dependent on either your eyes, fingers (if you’re reading Braille), or ears (if you’re listening to this through a text-to-speech reader).
My vacation really made me question the value of experience and what might be a deeper way to experience a vacation, or for that matter, life. Yet we are sensate creatures, and it could be argued that we experience spirituality through physicality. As Sting sings in The Police, “We are spirits in the material world.”