It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog or, indeed, been that much online, and it all started when I didn’t take my camera on holiday with me a few weeks ago.
That sounds like I made a mindful, rational decision not to bring my Canon DSLR on holiday with me in case photography ate into the time I should be sharing with my sisters.
On a two-day stopover at mum’s before we went to Spain, I realised I’d packed the camera body, numerous lenses, lens covers and other paraphernalia… but not the battery for the camera. This, I know, sounds like an easily solvable problem, especially since mum lives in the capital.
Earlier this year, I and my daughter trawled the streets of London looking for a replacement battery for my Canon DSLR 750D. After hours of raised hopes, dashed hopes and last-ditch attempts to find the ruddy thing, we conceded defeat. Apparently, trying to find batteries for cameras which aren’t the latest thing is harder than finding a coherent plan for Brexit.
So, no, I wasn’t about to travel that road of pure frustration again two days before my holiday. I, therefore, decided to leave the DSLR at mum’s – hyperventilating a little even with the option of being able to fall back on my iPhone.
But here’s the thing: whilst I pride myself on trying to be mindful and present most of the time, my holiday showed me I’m usually trying to be mindful and present behind a camera lens. Viewing the world in close-up – sometimes at a macro level – made me believe I was fully immersed in my surroundings and the people around me.
And it actually felt something like relief in not being able to DSLR-capture, no matter how beautifully, our breathtaking surroundings.
A camera lens helped me buy into an illusion I was experiencing something when, actually, I was more thinking about composition, lighting and that person getting in the way of my eyeline.
Without the camera, there was time for a conversation with my sisters about the beauty we were witnessing – rather than me showing them digitally how gorgeous that beauty was.
Admittedly, once or twice I did whip out the iPhone camera, but usually to take a snap of the incredible amount of gin which serves as a measure in Spain.
What, then, does this have to do with not being so much online – because, surely, with no picture snapping all the while, there would be more time for online occupations?
En route to home, again via mum’s for a few days, I continued to enjoy the luxury of not *having* to capture my time. To actually just spend time unrecorded.
In that decision, there was actually time to dig out my mum’s sewing machine and run up some cushion covers for her.
Then it hit me.
I hadn’t used my own beast of a sewing machine since Bronnie’s death.
With him, I had buried all the happy memories of turning our farmhouse dining room into a massive quilt-making room.
Bronnie and the children, instead of leaving me to it, also made that room their second home. One end of the room was even kitted out with separate table and chairs where everyone would have dinner or puzzled out homework whilst I sewed.
There were also laughs – and accidents – aplenty in allowing the children to sometimes “have a go” with my sewing machine. (Apologies, again, for the misshapen, eyewateringly-bad bags and things the children gave some of you as “gifts.”)
Between then and now I’d forgotten how attached I’d been to my Pfaff Quilting Expression sewing machine. A sewing machine which was a surprise gift from Bronnie when my old sewing machine gave up with the words “Nah, I’m not doing this anymore.”
I loved that machine and I loved him for realising how important it was to me.
Had my camera been on holiday with me, I may not have rediscovered my love of sewing – and fabric addiction.
I would probably have got back to mum’s and buried myself in a virtual editing and documenting room somewhere.
Instead, these last few weeks, I started seeing the world again without a lens filter, and in that found yet another way back to Bronnie and a lost love.