Living Inside Our Simulation

Their glasses raised in the air, the three women held their arms fixed in a cheers pose while one of them captured the moment for posterity.

Did they even toast? I thought from a few tables away in a Barcelona restaurant catering to diners looking for healthy eating options and Instagram worthy plating.

I judged them as I’ve been judging most of the photo hungry diners and sightseers I’ve encountered on this trip.

Like the tourists who cruise from room to room in the Louvre with their camera fixed in front of them seemingly snapping anything that comes into view. I judge their lack of “experiencing the art” as I listen to in depth commentary on my museum app. After I’ve learned from the audio track, I take a picture like I’ve earned it.

I’m not above it all. The morning of the simulated cheers described above I’d woken up early to run along Barcelona’s beachfront. I’d biked the path the day before, and while I was biking it, I’d thought about running it. While I was running it, I thought about when I should stop to take the best picture.

Eventually, I came across sleek outdoor adult fitness equipment free to access–basically an adult jungle gym with two long sets of monkey bars, dip bars, pull up bars, a landmine, and other things.

I’ve been working on my pull up, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hang there for a bit. Literally hang. That’s what I do on the pull up bar since I can’t yet do a pull up.

So I hung, staring out into the ocean, hoping the setting would make what’s usually a crappy task (honing grip strength–i.e., making callouses) more fun.

But I found right away, that instead of “being in the moment”, I was caught up in the process of making the moment. While I hung, I thought about how I should take a picture. I thought about how I might write up a social media post about it. Instead of living the moment, I was creating the moment and processing it through the potential lens of others.

I was aware that I did not want to be doing this, but I couldn’t stop myself. (In general, I have a hard time stopping thoughts I’m trying not to think. Maybe you can relate.)

Today I climbed a hill in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and I faced the same problem when I arrived at the top: capture the moment versus be in the moment. I started first with capturing it. I took as many pictures as I wanted. I thought about texts I would send David describing my summit. And then I sat down and relaxed into what felt like “the moment” I should be experiencing.

Going forward I’m going to follow a similar strategy: document first then let whatever happen. Because I like taking pictures and I like sharing. And I think those are part of what make a moment and an experience now in our culture.

A toast is no longer just words and a clanking of glasses. It can also be a picture of arms held aloft accessible from anywhere if the user chooses to share it so.

Here’s my hilltop:


And my pull up bars:


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