The Chocolate of Now

Ellie DolginLuckily 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!)

6 Responses to “The Chocolate of Now”

  1. Barbara Hinz

    Oh boy, do I know what you mean! A few years ago I sat down with thousands of pictures and sorted them by family members. I ended up creating collages for each one of them. I cut out the faces and glued them all together in a frame. I have hanging in my kitchen, a collection of people who I love and who have touched my life. It holds a special place in my heart to greet them and give thanks for their gifts to me. I still have loads of photos, and it seems like we only pull them out when there is a death and we are looking for pictures for the funeral. 🙁
    Years ago we gave my mom a slide to digital converter for Christmas. She had so many slides! It took her almost 2 years to go through them all but for her, it was a great time down memory lane. For her the happy times were recorded and it created smiles.
    I agree that we should live NOW, our hearts capture the Kodak memories, and they never fade or get moldy!

  2. Joanne

    Yes! My boyfriend does AV at a prominent LI school district and from above, notices how all the parents are viewing and recording their kids’ concert/play/performance through their iPad/iPhone/video camera instead of being in the moment and actually watching it. Understandable… But sad in a way… They don’t get it… I myself, had the best day ever baking valentines cookies with my 3 yr old twin grandsons. I only took 2 photos. Their aunt asked for more but I explained I was too busy baking and playing to take more pix. I was truly in the moment and had the best time!!

  3. Joe Gladstone

    Oh did that ring a bell! We have the same thing – envelopes and envelopes and albums and albums of pictures from the past 30+ years. Probably not as many as you since we only have one child, not three. And we still have the 8mm movies from my childhood and my wife’s childhood. The following was said 30+ years ago and many times after: “We’ll put the movies on video tape.” Did we ever do it? No. Ah, then came DVDs. “We’ll put the movies and pictures on DVDs. Did we ever do it? No. Now it seems like an overwhelming job and the cabinets are still full. I saw my daughter grow up through the lenses of cameras.
    Now that I just read what you’ve written, you’ve at least encouraged me to take on the project. I’ll keep you posted! Thank you! And I hope you and the family are just fine!

    • Joe Gladstone

      PS. And yes, live now. We totally agree. Live every day to its fullest. There is only the present as we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

  4. nancy bernstein

    Conversely, I lived in Europe 5 years without taking 1 picture. I take more now w phone. Amazing beautiful nature shots my fave. I heard as a little girl, Native Americans believed photos took some of your spirit away. I was always a bit worried bout that. I did have fascinating experience recently. I came across baby photo of me that I had a memory of. I (the picture) looked very different than I remembered. Food for thought as I ponder my upbringing this year in self discovery 🙂


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