The Eagles concert on Friday was FABULOUS – they played for well over 3 hours, the music was great, and Mike and I had sixteenth-row seats on the floor of the stadium, so we had a pretty good view of the band. I am a total Eagles fangirl, so I was in seventh heaven.
The one thing that annoyed me about the concert was that the fellow in front of me spent the first half-hour waving his arm in the air (obstructing my view), taking photos with his cell phone. I don’t know what he’s going to do with grainy, blurry photos of the performers and the projector screens the day after – perhaps it will serve as a souvenir, a record that yes, in fact, he was actually at the concert – but in the process of taking all those photos, he essentially destroyed his experience of the first few songs, and I think that’s terrible.
Let me start by saying that I understand the desire to preserve the memories of a great experience. I still remember going to their Hell Freezes Over tour, the jokes they made there, and the wonderful experience of seeing it from tenth row center. And I paid a king’s ransom (well over $500) for the tickets for this show, so naturally I would love to preserve the concert, untouched, forever in my memory.
But there is a distinction between experiencing and recording; and in order to record something well, you must distance yourself from it, focusing on the mechanics of making a good recording, rather than the thing itself. And some things, like live concerts and good sex, are intrinsically ephemeral, best enjoyed in the moment, rather than struggling futilely to preserve it and thus destroying your short opportunity to experience the moment fully.
This may sound a bit strange, coming from a prolific blogger. If you’re wondering how I manage to write so much, it’s because I keep a running monologue, an observer of sorts, in the back of my head, continuously evaluating whether something is worth writing about, worth recording in photography. If it finds something interesting, it pops a flag in my head, and I begin mentally experimenting with different ways of explaining the experience, of putting it into words for readers (and for posterity). By the time I get to the computer, it’s already half-written; all I have to do is let it flow out of my mind and onto the screen, and then do some light editing.
I actually find this enhances my experience of most things, by encouraging me to look deeply at things, to focus on something beautiful (or not), to remember it, the better to explain it later. But there are some things which are unsayable, un-photographable, ephemeral by nature – which must be experienced rather than recorded. For me, live music is one of those. For those, I turn off the “observer” and simply delight myself in the moment, embracing its transitory nature, experiencing it without trying to explain. It is a series of Zen moments.
I am therefore not going to try to explain the experience of the concert. Instead, I offer you this essay as an explanation of sorts, hoping it will enhance your experience of the ephemeral.
(And by the way, the Eagles rock!)