When I was in Turkey in 2011, we had just finished a day of touring mosques by walking up a steep hill past a cemetery. As is law, the cemetery was incredibly creepy but still beautiful as the sun slowly set over it.
Before long, we reached the top and were greeted by this beautiful view over Istanbul:
Immediately, we all pull out our cameras and begin snapping away. After all, if we don’t take 15 pictures of the same exact spot and then post them on Facebook, how will others know we have been there?
After a minute or two, our faculty director (and my awesome friend Papa Kev aka Kevin) asked us to put down the cameras, just for a minute, and appreciate where we were and what it meant.
The lesson he was trying to teach us – to look at, and appreciate, life with our own eyes rather than through the lens of a camera – is one I’ve carried with me in the two years since that moment. Yes, I want to be sure to capture beautiful moments and share them with others, but some beautiful moments deserve awestruck appreciation, without the sound of a camera clicking.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Koh Lanta, Thailand, where I’ve parked myself for about two weeks. As the island is on the western coast of Thailand, and as I am staying on the western side of the island, the sunsets are pretty spectacular.
I love that I have been able to capture some amazing sunset shots and share them with others. But the most meaningful night, so far, happened the one time I didn’t have a camera or my iPhone. I was out for a run (yes, a run. Yes, someone already said to me “WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH KRISTEN?” :-)). As I jogged along the surf, I was treated to the most spectacular light show. I berated myself at first for not having a camera but then I realized – I already had two things with me that could see this beautiful natural creation just fine. And so I did a few sun salutations, and at one point did a literal toast to God with my water bottle, in appreciation of being alive and able to enjoy such a sight.
Obviously, there are no pictures of that. But these next few should hopefully convince you to pay Koh Lanta a visit soon: