When we read an article on how to eat, meditate like a pro, tone our abs, or ace an interview, it’s just that — an article with an idea. We can take it or leave it.
When we see an exercise video performed by people who make the exercises look incredibly easy (so what is our problem?!), it’s just that — a video created by someone who has practiced and perfected those exercise moves before doing them in front of a camera (maybe in a specialized workout suit with tape holding things in place) on a day that worked for them at one moment in time (and then likely edited the video before offering it to the world).
When we see a photo of someone or something, it’s just that — a single image of a moment in time. Perhaps candid; it may also be posed, filtered, retouched. And in any case, of one single moment in time.
What we see around us is the bits and pieces (and sometimes mainly noise) of life. It’s never the full picture and can’t be — whatever we’re seeing right now is a snapshot of this one moment. And then we see a snapshot of another moment. And then a next one…
Snapshots can be fun to look at. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that they are snapshots of a moment. And then there is another moment and then another. We’re never seeing the full picture of anyone or anything.
I’ve gotten carried away more times than I can count comparing myself to someone I’ve seen for three minutes, a photograph, a video, a post I’ve read on how to meditate, make the most superfood smoothie, purify my life, or whatever, and then found myself circling the drain and feeling miserable and inadequate, since getting to the apparent quality of snapshot life feels unattainable and far away from my current day-to-day.
Sometimes I forget and assume the snapshot is the entire picture and how it is forever and ever and ever for someone else (and thus I’m failing because I’m not “there”) — and it’s not. It’s simply a snapshot. I have no idea about what happened the moment before or after, how the other person was feeling, what noise was blaring in their head, or what they are thinking about the snapshot they are seeing right now.
I’m practicing reminding myself in this moment and then the next and then the next — that everything I see is a snapshot being filtered now through the entirety of my own life experience to date, where I’m seeing (a lot more) of my own big picture. Comparing isn’t too useful; it’s carrots to pomegranates.
Articles, videos, photographs, other people — they can be a resource and/or offer ideas, sparking a conversation, a feeling, a new possibility. They might show us things we haven’t considered or new frontiers and directions we could go. These sparks can be awesome for nudging us toward a helpful shift or offering a new paradigm (whether through taking in the idea or leaving it) — especially when we remember the initial snapshot is just that, a snapshot of a moment in time. It’s not the entire picture nor a place for us to “get to.” It’s simply a snapshot that might offer an idea. Or not.
I’m thinking the more we can remember this and remind ourselves (and not get stuck as long in assumption and comparison land), the more likely it’ll be for our kids to take the snapshots for what they are, too.