A group of elementary school students got off a school bus at the rest stop. They instinctually gathered in formation and started a choreographed routine welcoming their classmates in the next bus that pulled up. Their joy spilled forth in rhythm as they stepped in time.
A student from our group prompted one of his classmates to join the children. The children embraced our student as he joined their circle; our students snapped the photos for Instagram. The freeze frame suggested a meaningful encounter that our student initiated and embraced. Seeing the setup, though, contradicted the reality. Perhaps, contradicted is too strong a word. At the very least, it expanded the reality beyond the portrayal and sentimentality.
Sometimes, we read situations through a lens of what we assume to be reality without ever questioning the set-up. Other times, we orchestrate and edit to crop situations to what we desire to portray or what we think is desired of us. Watching the scene unfold, compared to the still frame, it was the elementary students joy that was magnetic – not the forced participation of one of our students. This is not a call to be cynical of what we view; however, it is an invitation to question if we see through the lens of reality or our assumptions.