#SLOWGRAMS A Tactile Way to Connect With the Moment
In June I had the opportunity to attend a digital detox in the mountains of Northern California. My week spent unplugged at Camp Grounded with people named Honey Bear, Permission, and Sheriff proved a pivotal moment in my life. I arrived to the Anderson Valley mountains excited, nervous, and cynical. To say this weekend resulted in a period of enlightenment would be an understatement. I left feeling more like myself than I had in decades. I was truly aware of how I felt, what my food tasted like, and my body's clock. And yes, I was right mom, I am naturally not a morning person. I also apparently really, like really, need naps. But how fun and mind blowing is that? Take away tech, screens, clocks, and watches and you are given the gift of a lot of self reflection and circadian rhythm. Let me tell you....we are way off on our natural rhythms in our modern life. It felt so damn good to just do whatever my body FELT like doing. I learned that wherever you are is exactly where you are supposed to be. That statement became my mantra. It was freeing and just the bit of permission I needed to hop off the hamster wheel and lay in a hammock.
My biggest learning, or re-learning, was that I really enjoyed looking at the beauty of the world around me. Before my iPhone became the lens through which I viewed everything, I used to be a photographer. I used to also be a person that would just sit and look and absorb. That version of me took the first bus out of town with the arrival of the first iPhone.
Now, here, in the beautiful sequoias, without my device I started to recall the feelings I felt when I was without it. Happy, content, present and sometimes creative. With my iPhone instantly capturing each moment many times over I moved on without much time, if any, for reflection. I snapped, filtered, and left the moment. I realized that the instantaneous gratification made me less connected to what I was seeing, smelling, and doing. I missed the long hours in my dark room and I missed having the ability to just be, without the ennui sneaking up on me. Camp Grounded offered me a viewfinder for my days spent in the woods. Two fingers and two thumbs and my brain.
My gift from that time in the mountains are my memories. I can close my eyes and recall every detail. I call upon these mental images as I need them. If I am in a crowded subway car I can instantly feel the breeze of the summer night while I lay in a hammock under the stars. These images are priceless to me. Camp Grounded gave me a tool to reconnect and be present which also happened to be a coping mechanism should I ever need it.
Don't believe me? Check out what Fahd Butt did. He put his Iphone away and drew each moment he wanted to capture. The results are breathtaking #slowgrams. He managed to capture what I felt on a much grander (and beautiful) scale.
“You have to pick your moments. You have to make a conscious decision.” The attention a sketch requires grounded him in the events he was witnessing and focused him in a way that photography never could. “You end up wanting to slow down.”
And guess what I just found out? He's a "Grounder". Another pupil of the digital detox putting his learning to good work for a life less plugged in and more present. You can check out the rest of his works here. He also really likes French Toast.
In honor of all things tactile here are some of my scanned prints from the dark room many moons ago. Each moment I can tell you exactly where and when it was and what I felt while taking the image.