Luckily I will be able to sleep tonight. That’s my deadline to finish a project that I have been working on for months. Only fifteen more minutes to go until it is done.
My husband and I took huge amounts of pictures of our family growing up. They are in the original camera store envelopes fading and sticking together from mold. Time faded the pictures and their appeal. They have been stuffed away in plastic containers for the past thirty years, untouched and unappreciated. Photographs of every birthday party, soccer game, trip to the beach, walk to the school bus, bicycle ride, kite flying, cigar smoking, domino building, snow falling, leaf changing…did I leave anything out?
I took on the project of sorting through them and deciding which ones to keep and which to discard. The final count is approximate, but the numbers are mind-boggling. About five thousand to go onto DVDs, fifteen garbage bags tossed, and hundreds to relatives who might appreciate the extras. Sporting a surgical mask to filter out the mold and a lot of dark chocolate to initiate each session, I took on the pictures. I allowed myself to say, “This is insane! Craziness!” whenever I needed to vent.
Really, too much of a good thing can backfire. Catching every occasion and emotion is not always good. In addition to adorable and delightful images of the kids at each stage of life, I saw times when we were sad, angry, exasperated, and full of sorrow, times that the subject confided deep emotions to the camera. Did I really need to be reminded of that?
Seeing the past through the filter of the present and all that I have learned is frustrating. I can’t do anything about the past, and the people involved do not exist now as they were then. With all that is written about living in the present, I understand its value even more now. It’s the only place that truly exists. It is where we have power to affect our lives and experience the joy of co-creating. It’s the time when we can evolve and deepen relationships, to commit and allow our dreams to manifest. Pictures of the past have a place, but they are not a substitute for living fully. They are an adjunct to an experience, not an integral part of it, and they certainly don’t take the place of using our five (plus) senses.
For those of you who wish you had more pictures, I respect and appreciate your feelings. But, for me, after this project, my new mantra is:
Live life! Don’t take a picture of it!
(I would have inserted a more interesting picture, but no more sorting through pictures tonight!)