Russell is the innovation specialist on our digital strategy team.
As someone who loves to run, it’s perhaps a little strange that I like it best when I totally forget I’m doing it. My legs are moving and my breath is heaving, but I’m lost (and found) in thought. It’s the feeling of being suspended in a constant moment, neither arrived nor having just begun. It’s what I run for, and a few months ago I found myself recreating just such a memorable moment from the past, with unexpected results…
I was in New York City for a 10-year reunion with friends from a yearlong internship program I’d been part of there in 2003. After three days and nights of banter and belly laughs, we each returned to our respective lives around the world. Having arrived from the UK a decade earlier as fresh-faced twentysomethings, the five of us now returned to our lives in Australia, the east and west coasts of the USA, and the UK (one of us had to hold the fort!).
Before heading back to an uncharacteristically sunny Vancouver, I remained in the city for a week of work, and one evening I took a run through Central Park. Runners and cyclists were out in force, all of them making the most of the picture-perfect evening. Of the countless meandering thoughts that came into focus as I ran, one of them really hung around in my mind; it had been 10 years since I’d last run through the park and yet I was somehow transported back into that moment, that headspace, from a decade ago.
Around the mid-point of my run, I joined the trail around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and was struck by a stunning sight—the photo you see at the top of this post. I don’t normally run with my phone, but had it with me on this occasion and, seeing this view, I did what I’ve never done before: I stopped running and took a photo to post to Instagram. It should have been a tiny pause—a blip along the way—but I looked at the image and decided it didn’t capture the moment quite ‘right.’ One photo became four or five, and all of a sudden my single snapshot had become something rather more involved. I’d stopped to capture a memorable moment and instead, in a sense, had stolen it from myself.
Running on, after my photo stop I couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling. Now, more than ever, we have the tools to capture the sights and sounds of our lives, and I can’t help but feel it’s become problematic. A little while ago I'd read about the dangers of becoming ‘a spectator of your own life,’ and during that sunny run in Central Park, I experienced first-hand what that feels like.
There was logically only one thing to do to remedy how I was feeling: another lap—this time without interruption. So I ran around that beautiful reservoir once again, back down to Columbus Circle and then onwards and through Times Square. Breathless and sweaty, I collected my belongings from the lululemon store in the Meatpacking district and walked back to the subway with a smile, my phone firmly zippered in its pocket.
All this is to say that I can’t help but feel that some moments are best left out there, uncaptured, for you alone to smile about.