I aimed the camera at them; they aimed their marbles at me

There are two kinds of travelers: those running from themselves and those running to themselves, I thought, as I pointed the camera at the children. I am happy to say that it was this thought that struck me, and not the marbles aimed back at me along with their giggles and smiles.

It was a moment of plenitude — that day — running wild and so completely satisfied doing simple things, like climbing trees and playing with goats and camels in the village fields, when I realized that I had migrated from the former to the latter kind of traveler. It was a funny kind of maturity that happened, making me feel I felt like a child again, freely and spontaneously entertained by the inconsequential immediately around me, and no longer dependent upon finding the next future happiness.

At one point, the children had taken the camera. How I would love to say something smart, like ‘I had handed the camera to the children in an investigation to see how these children saw their own world’.

It was nothing of the sort.

The camera had been seized by them several times before stealing off like marauders in every direction, relentlessly taking snapshots of everything before their eyes and without any discrimation whatsoever. A better picture would have been of me, running after them, ready to dive and slide like an outfielder to save my camera from imminent destruction.

Fortunately my shoddy catching skills were not necessary. But my discrimation was, erasing countless oblivious photos.

I always remember the joy of those children and their unmeditated photos every time I see the endless selfie sessions that have become ubiquitous. I have noticed that that former group of traveler has a certain propensity for inserting themselves into moments to feel themselves present — consequently needing ever more and more of them — whereas the latter find the present in moments.

Something that requires observation.

That doesn’t mean the carefree — or the careless — don’t play an important role. Thanks to some close to me, I was dragged to places I might not have seen if left to my own cautious, premeditated choices. Places that had been waiting for me, like a village where children still played marbles, where they saw that I saw that they saw us.

‘Selfie’ stuck in rush hour traffic

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A native of Chicago, Ricky Toledano has lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for over twenty years as a writer, translator and teacher. [a]multipicity is multi-lingual collection of reflections through the humanities.

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