Tired of the frenzy that has gripped our nation, I am packing my bags for a place where, hopefully, mornings break with bird calls, stars and fireflies compete with each other in twinkling and, most importantly, colour green doesn’t denote currency notes. While I am gathering my essentials for the journey, especially cameras and binoculars, a metaphor hits me.
With digicams getting cheap and mobile phones with cameras becoming common, image-capturing devices have displaced binoculars from the list of items people carry when visiting nature.
Nowadays, anyone returning from an Indian jungle is bound to post tons of beautiful images of birds and beasts on social media, creating an illusion that people are really getting interested in knowing nature more intimately.
But, the reality is, with cameras replacing binoculars, everyone’s interest in nature is reduced only to frame-capturing. The amateur bird watcher totting a binocular and taking an easy walk amongst the trees is now replaced by a wildlife “lover” angrily ordering gypsy driver to move back and forth to ensure that his bazooka lens has the lion or the lorikeet in the place right enough to get 100 likes on Facebook.
This is making it necessary to look closely of a hidden metaphor behind cameras replacing binoculars in our interactions with nature.
Nature never resides in frames that we capture. It is a seamless drama getting played out since eternity with no scene repeated twice. It has a dynamic beauty that unfolds for an observant beholder who is not looking for something specific and is ready to enjoy the constant change.
Those rushing to jungles with cameras looking for frames may see the nature but not its dynamism. For most of them, dynamism of nature is an inconvenience that comes in the way of capturing what they want to depict. They are angry with leopards for not waiting for the right light and they hate paradise flycatcher for not sitting steadily for a shot.
For someone armed only with a binoculars, jungle is a live place full of action. He does not need to struggle to locate a tiger or a trogon, as careful observation of even a squirrel can also intrigue him by making him aware that squirrels relish ants!
The preference for camera is just an extension of what is happening at every level in our lives, and it is not restricted to our interactions with nature. Even our social relationships are marred with image-capturing obsession. All of us have become too keen to stop and hold on to moments instead of looking at life as a continuous process that we can enjoy without constantly doing that.
For transient creatures that we are, this change is the worst possible development, as it has undermined the meaning of our existence. We are no longer moving with the flow but are constantly fighting to stand in one place and possess it. Our desperation to capture the moment is preventing us to cognising the real essence of life. While we try to live our lives in snapshots, we are losing out on the bigger picture.
As we rush through life looking for things to capture, we fail to see the need of enjoying the moment. We presume that life is lived only during those specific frames that we work hard to capture, and miss out on cognising a large part of living that happens in between the frames.
What we really need to do is to understand that our existence is all about our journey through time on this planet. Life is a study in motion, best enjoyed without trying the impossible task of capturing a moment.