Here’s an exchange that recently occurred between a tourist and myself:
“What kind of camera do you use?”
“What kind of camera do you use to show people what you’ve done?”
“I don’t,” I replied as I stepped onto the beach, board tucked under my arm, ready to paddle out to the surfline.
The woman appeared a bit confused by my answer, possibly perplexed that I wasn’t carrying a GoPro or waterproof camera on my morning adventure.
I recall as a kid we used to watch documentaries in school and read articles about cultures where the inhabitants refused to be photographed for fear it would steal their souls. We were amazed — and a little amused — that a primitive tribe or ancient community could believe that a small box that lets in light could actually snatch a soul.
NCOAE student on a recent Education Without Walls course in Alaska
Nobody’s stealing souls, we said. We all just seek memories. Something to show others where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished, uncovered or learned. And, while flipping through magazines, that’s what we saw. Other people’s adventures.
But today, things are becoming a little more like the tribes fearing the loss of their souls.
Whether in the surf, on the trail or gazing at the pristine surroundings from atop a mountain, we’re constantly surrounded by people actively