The Only Moment That Matters is Right Now

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Photo: Caleb Jones on Unsplash

There are things that happen in life that do not get written down. Big things, small things, things. They happen and you don’t write them and maybe you remember them, maybe you don’t, but they happen. They happen and you react, and life continues, and the things affect you in some way, or maybe they don’t, but there is no record of them, so maybe they happened, or maybe they happened and you don’t remember them so they kind of didn’t happen.

I like to think that I remember things but the truth is I remember very little. I rarely remember things that I write, say or do, so I write them for that simple reason — I want to remember them one day, one day when I can no longer remember, and the writing is all that I have. It is the same with photographs. You never look at a photograph you just took and grasp how truly meaningful the photograph actually is. You share that photo publicly, on Instagram, because you want to convey something about that moment, that thing you just did, place you just saw, event that just happened.

The photo’s true purpose, the reason why you took it at all, remains elusive.

The real reason you take a photograph, the real reason you write, the real reason you make a recording, is so that you can capture time. And time is always moving. There is nothing you can do to stop the hour hand from moving forward, from making your body and your mind one second older with each second that passes. The mind is like film, the camera always rolling, rolling, rolling. Only a select few moments are worth saving, or maybe all of it, but only a select few really are the ones that get saved.

And so you write them down, you take the picture, you shoot that video. That recording of that moment means absolutely nothing without the passage of time, without the passage of time that indicates you are no longer there, no longer that person, no longer familiar with that place — you need the recording, in the end, to get back. It is the only thing that brings you back, for unless you literally travel back, you cannot go back, and even then, you are back but you are no longer that person, and that moment is never the same.

There is no back, there is only what was.

When I look back at photos, I do my best to look back at photos from periods long forgotten, not periods that recently passed. I take those photos, just as everyone takes those photos, because I want to capture time. And I write, as many people write, because I want to capture time, too. And maybe time has no value in the immediacy of its just having passed. It doesn’t mean anything until enough time has gone by, and you can look, when all is not the same, and you can say — I was there.

But in the end, so many moments mean nothing at all. Still, we persist. We write them down, take those photos, record those videos — we live and we document how we live, because we think our lives are interesting, that these moments mean something, when in truth the true meaning is lost the second we begin ascribing meaning to it.

Most moments are meaningless and most memories are meaningless, because the only thing that truly matters is the moment happening right now.

Right now.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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