Elegant branches of willow trees sway in the breeze and sunlight sweeps across the river that flows smooth and steady.

The light plays on the water and the grass, on which the shadows of the branches dance on the emerald bank where wildflowers dot the landscape.

For a brief moment, as I sit writing this at the river’s edge, I think this is a beautiful moment to capture and debate picking up my camera.

But the thought is quickly absorbed into the warmth of the sun that illuminates my skin. Instead, I choose to be in the moment that is the now.

It’s a beautiful, cool September afternoon just a few hours before the sun will fall into the arms of nightfall. And I’m still. Watching. Listening. Being. And letting the moment be — not captured.

This is something I’ve learned to do more and more over the past 20 years. That’s not to say I don’t take photos, but I’ve become more selective.

Photography has long been an interest and favorite pastime of mine.

But I’ve become more comfortable — and grateful — for the times I choose not to take a photograph, when I can enjoy an experience without feeling the need to capture an image or record a video.

It is so easy for us to pick up our phones and record an experience however we chose nowadays. Consider a concert or a fireworks display. Often, everyone is holding up their phone and recording the show.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with recording something for keepsake purpose (I do) — although all those phones held up in the air at venues like those aforementioned can be visually disruptive and distracting to others around — but I think we lose much of the experience by capturing everything.

Certain experiences should be experienced as they unfold...and felt emotionally, spiritually.

About 20 years ago on a trip overseas, I decided it was time to be in the moment and take in all of the beautiful sights firsthand rather than through a viewfinder of a 35 mm camera, as was the case at the time.

Yes, I took lots of photos but not nearly as many as I would have normally taken. And it felt OK.

When it comes right down to it, if I am at a big event, like a fireworks display or a special outdoor performance, chances are someone else is recording the experience and going to share it online for others to enjoy.

I would rather sit back and use all of my senses to be in the moment of certain experiences than have my hands occupied holding up a phone.

Personally capturing an experience photographically or digitally recording it can all too easily become the focus of the experience rather than wholly being present in the experience.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at drose@newstimes.com.