Once upon a time, I was obsessed with webcams. Not the sketchy, personal ones, of course...but rather, the ones that looked at various places around the world. From town squares in Germany to the construction of an IKEA in Sweden, from an ice rink in Montreal to a controllable light grid in Japan, I was riveted. Starting in my sophomore year of college, much of my spare time online was taken up by searching for new webcams and enjoying the many I already knew about. Heck, I created entire web pages linking to them.
Before I spent significant time documenting the life of our child (and my reactions to the experience), I surfed from camera to camera looking at parts of the world that I never knew existed or that I desperately hoped to visit. Like anything else in life, certain cameras resonated with me more than others. I became fascinated by Scandinavia. I was strangely obsessed with watching street cameras halfway around the world in the wee hours of the morning (their time) and pondering the lives of the random few people passing by. I loved seeing unique architecture and gorgeous landscapes. I dreamed about visiting German Christmas markets or Munich's Oktoberfest. I "revisited" places I'd been previously and sometimes tried to find the actual cameras when traveling through places I'd viewed previously. It probably bordered on obsession at times, but it was fun and even educational.
The obsession lasted for more than a decade. My website is no more, but I still have the files saved and dozens more sites marked as favorites stored away. And while I used to look at many of them weekly or even daily, I can't tell you the last time I spent a significant period of time surfing webcams, aside from a little at Christmas, a couple weeks at Oktoberfest, and a couple views of bird nests that I frequent this time of year. But that's about it.
I spend my time online now browsing Facebook and reading and writing blog posts. I read mostly about parenting and current events' connection to parenting. Some days I can barely keep up with it all. I've mentioned here before that writing this very blog has kept me from valuable sleep, all in the name of documenting our lives and participating in a little therapeutic venting.
Where my time was once spent dreaming of travels to far away locations and learning about other places and cultures, my time is now spent looking for insight into this parenting gig, commiserating and sharing experiences, and hoping to find ways to do it better. It's a definite shift in focus.
Now the question is, does this mean I have stopped dreaming?
I couldn't get enough of the webcams because they represented places I wanted to go. They might have been places I never knew I cared to visit, but in the moment I was looking at them, I wanted to be there. A quaint European square, a zoo exhibit, a breathtaking mountain-filled landscape, or a unique landmark on the other side of the country...I suppose anything would be better than sitting at my desk, for example, but I live for exploring new places and webcams gave me a little peek into so many exotic locales. I'm a bit timid about venturing out in the real world, but I do love the prospect of going somewhere new to explore, take pictures, and experience new things. Webcams are an easy way to see a lot without worrying about traveling, public transportation, or money. Over the years I compiled quite the list of places I wanted to go. And now, it's just sort of stalled.
I'm not sure why. Am I just being more practical by spending my time focusing on something that impacts my life each day, rather than dream trips that may never happen? Do I subconsciously not want to travel because I'd rather stay with Jacob? Did my list of cams get too long to keep up, so I just cut it out completely? Or is reality just a little too real and the dream of visiting these places just a little too big to fit in my world right now? I have no idea. On one hand it's a little depressing, but on the other, perhaps it's wise to not get myself caught up in something that might never happen.
I think we all need dreams. And maybe my dreams right now are focused in other directions--another baby, a part-time job that allows me more time with Jacob, enough free time to catch up on my to do list, the discipline to structure my life in a more fulfilling way (better spiritual life, earlier bedtime, less wasted time)--but somehow those down-to-earth desires feel equally difficult to achieve as the ones I had involving places on the other side of the globe. Sometimes this parenting thing is an overwhelmingly tough job, and maybe I'm just trying to keep my efforts focused where they're needed most. Hopefully someday there will be the time, energy, and money to dream bigger once again, but for now I've got one dream come true sleeping upstairs, and maybe that should be enough.