AUGUST 18, 2018
“In the moment life flashes before your eyes make sure it’s worth watching.”
As 21 year old backpackers, that one hit us hard because the decision to travel unexpectedly set our lives on a course that demanded to be observed. Backpacking, or any type of travel, can do that – bring your attention to a life worth living versus living life.
This was long before Facebook and Instagram. If you wanted to keep in touch with someone while traveling you would email or maybe use MSN Messenger but this was only if you could find an internet café. It was rare that anyone traveled with a laptop never mind a phone. People still used cameras that required film and phones you had to flip open.
Our bible was the Lonely Planet. There was no such thing as online reservations. If you had a flip flop or a phone card, you might call ahead to book a bed at a hostel ahead of arriving, but most of us just got off the bus and crossed our fingers. It worked every time except once.
Thankfully the fan in the room of our back up hostel never fell off the ceiling in the night like we anticipated.
Times seemed more simple back then, but while we had less to distract us from the white sand beaches, new friends and beautiful waves, it was also more challenging to share our experiences with the ones we love. Sure, there was an occasional mass email with photos that took forever to upload which meant extra cash thrown down at the ol café ($5 an hour or more), but other than that most photos ended up on film in Ziploc bags to be developed at a later date. I made an album with mine because I’m sentimental like that, but I don’t think anyone has seen it.
For the most part, there is very little physical evidence that the trip even happened.
I appreciate the notion of living in the moment, but the gift that Instagram and Facebook has given us is the ability to easily share our stories with the people in our lives on a regular basis and keep a semblance of connectivity even when we are on the other side of the world.
I didn’t join Instagram until long after it became a thing, but I finally created an account when I embarked on my first American road trip three years ago. After dreaming about driving the west coast for far too long, I pointed my car south and made my way to California and back up the West Coast… alone.
There is nothing like experiencing something in person, but by using social media I was able to share parts of my journey with the people in my life; people who may or may not ever visit the places that I’ve visited. Through my photos they were able to come along on my trip with me.
Three years later, I look back on photos and realize that Instagram has shone a light on the things in my life that matter the most to me. The photos I’ve shared are of me in my ideal environments – outdoors, surfing and with my people. In a way, my photo selection is reinforcing my values and serving as a reminder of the memories I’ve made along the way. My Instagram account serves as my highlight reel: the images that I will see in the moment my life flashes before my eyes. And based on how my story has unfolded so far, that momentary flash is going to be worth watching.
Ashley is a surfer, yogi and writer living and loving in Calgary, AB. She aims to write the way she lives – freely and unapologetically.