Sunset with the group

One of my favorite sayings is “Be where you are.” Taylor Callaghan, a senior at the University of South Carolina, shares some great insight on what it means to live in the moment and cherish the unique experience of travel.

Looking back through old photos I couldn’t be happier with the visual aids that helped me capture the beautiful memories. The photos from Machu Picchu, Toledo, Table Mountain and others will never do justice to the beauty I’ve been exposed to. But that’s just it. Even though it’s great to have these memories printed out or put into digital albums, we seldom think about what we’re missing out on when we live behind the lens. Especially in today’s society with the burst of technology, we never take a minute to put down the camera and really just take it all in. This idea had been bothering me for a while now, observing our generation’s need to document all that we do and share it with everyone we know. While sharing and connecting can be a good thing, I wanted to be able to have experiences and memories that were only mine. I wanted to privately hold onto something that I knew no one else would be able to understand or imagine even through videos, photos, and explanations. I took this idea and applied it to my hike up Table Mountain. I told myself that pictures would never capture the beauty that is, so I vowed not to take photos during my hike up so that it could be something I’d be able to hold on to for myself. It was definitely hard at times, and with some things I saw, not to whip out my camera and try to capture it. Since I didn’t do that though, it gave me the chance to challenge myself and actually make it up the mountain in an hour and a half!

The sound of my heartbeat banging against my eardrums and the feeling of my lungs gasping for the fresh mountain air was a combination I won’t ever forget. My open eyes truly felt open as I stared with amazement at the heights I had climbed and the challenge that awaited me up to the top, which resembled something I would expect to see when I reach heaven’s gates. The air tasted so sweet to my aching lungs and with each heart beat pounding I felt so thankful that I was even able to have this experience. It was something that I would always be able to come back to to remind me of my strength, my handwork, and my good fortune.

If we all took time to step back from our lenses and our over-sharing and our drive to get the right shot, then we could all have that tiny piece of ourselves that can be held on to and returned to in our most pleasant dreams. Everyone will be happy that they did.

Group surfing