These days, no self-respecting traveler heads for beach, mountain or thriving metropolis without smartphone and selfie stick in hand.
Gorgeous views, smiles as big as the Grand Canyon and life with glitz and no glitch is what we're used to seeing in our newsfeeds.
Psychologists worry about this. What if these happy vacationers, like Christmas revelers, make the rest of us suffer by upward comparison? Slump into depression? It could happen.
That's why I'm stepping up to do my small part for the nation's mental health and tell about the unposted and mostly untaken pictures of the kickoff to my last vacation -- the snapshots that didn't quite make it to Facebook.
First, there would be a shot of the rental-car agent patting down the floor under the passenger seat on Day One, right after I picked up my car in Hartford, Connecticut. I was on my way to see the home of Mark Twain -- the first stop of a breathless 13 on a self-designed literary tour of New England authors.
"I'm sure I returned your driver's license," she said. And sure enough, she had, only to have me drop it when I pulled over to take a Skype call from the grandkids. "No problem," she said, pulling it out of a side door pocket. An elderly gentleman made me feel better -- sort of -- by assuring me he does this sort of thing all the time.
Next, there would be the snapshot of the license plate, kept securely in my phone after a breathtaking half-hour that same day in West Hartford when I was sure the car had been stolen and summoned the police. Turns out the "landmark" I was sure I'd parked it in front of was actually down a couple of blocks. Maybe it was brain freeze from the liquid-nitrogen ice cream I'd gone there for in the first place.
Finally, there'd be the picture I could not take of my phone on the front seat of the car, because I'd locked it in there. I also couldn't find the car key and thought about calling the police -- but didn't, because what if they'd forgotten to note that the last report was resolved and thought I'd stolen it? Happily, I found the key at the bottom of my purse.
Also happily, both for me and my Facebook friends, things went swimmingly once I was out of Hartford. This freed me to post smiling pictures of myself in front of Emily Dickinson's house and Edna St. Vincent Millay's, show a myriad of pictures of formal gardens and sumptuous interiors at Edith Wharton's, and shots of the whale-like Mount Greylock outside Herman Melville's study window, which reportedly inspired him to write "Moby-Dick."
It was not until I returned to Hartford that the untold story resumed, and I neglected to post the picture of a green metal sign that said "Go Buses: Daily Express Service." If I had, I might have explained that this was the street corner where I intended to board the humble (but Wi-Fi-included) $5 bus to Boston but boarded the bus to New York instead.
I guess this mishap would have made an even better tale if a clever driver had not put me out on the curb and retrieved my bag. With that, I might have wowed my followers by posing in Manhattan or even on Broadway.
What if my selfie stick and I had bumped into Jamie Parker emerging from the side door of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"? I would have posted that pic for sure. I doubt I would have mentioned getting there on the wrong bus.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.