Moment in the Mist

When Mommy and left the hotel this morning we were a bit distraught to see snow falling from the sky. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to make us both think, “We’re going to freeze today…”

Why? Because today we were taking the tour of Niagara Falls, Canada, which included our northern neighbor’s version of the Maid of the Mist called the Hornblower. When we signed up for the tour, the agent had mentioned to us that technically the Maid of the Mist was a better ride because the boats are better equipped and able to maneuver within the curve of the Horseshoe Falls but that one would only notice after having gone  many, many times. Either way, we were expecting to get really wet.

Our Gray Line tour guide for the day, Carl, picked us up right by the hotel and after gathering the other passengers from locations around Niagara, NY, took us to the border where all we were asked was, “Where do you live?” and “Are you carrying any firearms?” As both of those were easy to answer, everyone made it to the other side without any difficulty and were soon bused to the Hornblower Cruise.

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Mommy didn’t want to get wet and therefore decided to stay below, but I chose to brave the winds and mist on the upper deck. Throngs of people, cloaked by wildly flapping red ponchos, pressed at the railings in an attempt to have the best angle for a memorable shot and a decent looking selfie. Admittedly, I was thinking the same thing as I wanted to be able to share with my family, friends, and followers here, on Facebook, Instagram, Yonder, and Google+. As I couldn’t get to the railing myself, I found the shortest people I could and reached over them until I got just what I wanted.

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Then I heard a father tell one of his kids, “Don’t worry about taking the best picture – be present in the experience. It’ll make a better impression.”

I’ll be honest and say that it only had me pause for a moment, because I was playing the part of a tourist and throughout the rest of the day as we visited different locations of importance on the Canadian side of Niagara and wanted to take photos of the floral clock, the Skylon Tower, the whirlpool, etc., not just to share but really for myself. I want to have memories that are somehow saved, that won’t fade and can be recalled at a click of a button.

But… his words did make me think. How often, in this day and age is our first reaction – when we something interesting, exciting, or even scary – to document and share it? Social media has pushed this urge to new heights and it makes one wonder if we know how to wonder anymore. How to be in awe. How to just be.

One of my favorite movie scenes comes from the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, when Walter finally finds Sean O’Connell, the wildlife photographer he’s been trying to track during the entirety of the story, up in the Himalayas waiting for the perfect shot of the elusive snow leopard. Walter, trying to figure out what was on a special negative he thinks he’s lost, is trying to coax and answer from Sean when a snow leopard comes into the viewfinder.

Sean motions Walter to peer through the camera at the beautiful “ghost cat,” and then continues to sit and stare across the valley. “When are you going to take it?” asks Walter.

Sean replies, “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”

I need more of this attitude in my life. To enjoy the moment without any distractions and cherish something real, honest, and true. I’m not saying that I won’t be taking anymore pictures during my time in Canada, but this is a philosophy that I hope to make my own – perhaps you will consider it to.

That being said, today’s tour was very enjoyable, even with the random moments of precipitation. It was never too cold and the flimsy ponchos on the Hornblower actually kept us dry. Despite the gray skies, there’s no denying it – the Canadians have the better view.

We returned to our hotel in the afternoon, only to turn right back around and go through US-Canada customs a third time (this time with a little more questioning) and spend a few moments in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake before heading to Toronto, the next destination of our trip.

Mom and I are truly having a wonderful time on our trip so far. Here’s hoping that as this week continues we’ll learn what it truly means to just stay in the moment, so that it’ll be saved not only in our hard drives, but our hearts.

-Wandering Minstrelette

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