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My husband and I decided we needed to breathe a bit of fresh air last weekend, so we escaped the city and took a quick road trip. We drove to Doylestown, where the highlight of the day was a tour of Fonthill Castle. The castle was built in the early 1900s by Henry Mercer, a man of many talents who had a particular obsession with tile. His quirky castle home has tiles everywhere, many of which he made himself, others he collected during his world travels. Some tiles depict historical scenes, some spell out words, most are whimsical—their placement often random and somewhat mismatched. The walls, floors and even the ceilings of the castle are inlaid with thousands of these colorful and unusual tiles.
The tour was fun, and very interesting. Our guide shared the history of the building and the fascinating man who built it. I asked a lot of questions and really enjoyed myself, but I kept glancing at my phone, in the back of my mind thinking, “I’m out doing something fun; I need to put this on Facebook or no one will know I was here!”
The thoughts made their way to the forefront of my mind and as they did, I said to myself,
”Wait. What? No one will know I was here?
I know I’m here and Bill knows I’m here. We’re spending time together and having fun.
What else matters?
Who else matters?”
It occurred to me that I was diluting a great experience (a gorgeous autumn day, in a one-of-a-kind place, with my favorite person) by worrying that no one else would know we’d been there—worrying that my social media friends who always seem to be going exciting places and doing exciting things would think my life was bland and boring.
I realized that I often do this. I go somewhere special and instead of just enjoying the moment, I start looking for the best place to take a photo, and once I’ve captured a good one I start trying to come up with a clever caption for it. So much mental space gets occupied by this project that I end up being absent-minded about why I’m really there to begin with: to have fun and to enjoy the people I’m with.
I found myself thinking of the old saying,
“If a tree falls in the forest and no is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Then, in my brain, in an instant, a 2016 version replaced it:
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one uploads the video to Facebook, does it make a sound?
(And can we really be sure it fell at all?)”
(I love it when I make myself laugh!)
And then I put my phone away.
There was no more angling for a good photo, no more angst over how to glamorize the events of the day, no more worry about what other people think of the quality of my life.
There was just a lovely day in the country with my guy.
Fresh air breathed.
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