Take Longer Videos

As a father of three kids ranging from 6 to 11 years old, this is the one thing I wish did more of.

This morning I was chatting with a friend on Zoom about parenthood. He has newborn twins (omg I can't imagine two babies at once) and he was describing this bizarre sadness he and his wife find trying to hold onto a moment you know will be precious to you in the future. I know this feeling all too well – in fact, I wrote about it a number of years ago.

He asked (or maybe he didn't and I just dispensed advice anyway as one does) if I had anything I would go back and change, and there was only one thing.

I would take longer videos of my kids and our life on totally normal days.

It's hard to find the balance between capturing a moment and living in it. I don't want my kids to remember a stupid black rectangle always blocking their view of daddy, but I also want the videos to help me remember – to feel things again, to bring back the little details of life.

My wife and I both have taken many videos over the years and we found a unique difference between what each of us have captured with our phones. Her videos tend to be very short, 5-10 seconds and probably intended to be shared on Instagram or Facebook. I didn't take as many videos, but they were usually longer, often 30 seconds to two minutes. And after a few late night binge sessions deep into our Camera Roll we found that something sweet happened when I let the camera roll and roll. You capture the moments between the moments.

The camera pans around the room a little and you get to see the kitchen before the remodel. You see the cereal all over the floor, the one kid reading a book upside under the armchair with underwear on his head, the pile of toys left out that has long since been packed away or sold at a garage sale.

In the moment the subject might be your child doing something cute, but when the clip runs long, my wife, extended family, and neighbors make guest appearances. The camera might even spin around and we'll get to see a terrible upshot of my chin. Or chins, depending on how old the video is.

I see I'm wearing the same shirt as I am today and maybe some things never change. I see the baseball fields behind the playground, the houses in the neighborhood behind the Slip 'n Slide in the front yard, the town we used to live in. I see the mountains behind the summit, my son's friends behind the diving board, and the ice cream truck coming down the block.

I hear the sounds that help bring me back and re-experience moments I can't get to on my own, in my mind. I love these longer videos, and I only wish I did it more often. I wish I had set up a camera on a tripod at breakfast and let it run for 20 minutes. I wish I wore a GoPro on my chest on the playground, at least once. I wish I had an entire kitchen dance party tucked away for a rainy day when my kids are in college. I have a lot of content, but I already know it's not enough.

Longer videos are the closest thing to time travel we'll (probably) ever have. Try recording videos for your future self instead of social media and see what happens. I can't imagine you'll regret it.

Published Aug 4, 2021

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