There is a day in my life that is forever imprinted in my mind and memory-
So much so that I can remember the feel of the sun, the laughter, and the carefree bliss and contentment that is inherent in youthful naivety. My sister and I were left alone with a couple of dollars and a Polaroid camera while my parents met up with some friends at a local, hmmmm, shall we say, establishment! In hindsight, there is nothing that happened in this moment that is acceptable in parenting literature, but my memory of the moment is all that really matters today 😉
My sister and I were young, trusting, and had no conceptual understanding that we were about to have anything but fun- I mean, we had a dollar each and a polaroid camera- seriously, we thought this was awesome! We laughed and played, taking pictures next to our beat up car in all sorts of contortionistic poses and funny faces. It is a memory that lingers in my heart and serves as a constant reminder that I lived a really simple life, but I was rich in feeling loved!
I have ONE legacy, taken from my mom and her siblings, that has shaped and molded everything about my parenting perspective. Her siblings, 7 of them, were very close and loved to get together to simply visit-
They laughed and they joked and they watched the kids goof off- they were so fun to be around! I have more fingers than I have pictures of this group of people in my life. Most of my mom’s siblings passed away way too young, and left emptiness where there was so much fun and laughter; but the memories keep me focused on remembering what really matters in life- the people we get to spend, large or small, portions of our journeys with.
This photo documentation is actually pretty uncommon for my youth. For a myriad of reasons, pictures of my childhood are few and far between. I used to feel bad about this, often feeling that without the pictures to back it up, my youth was a little non-existent and easily forgotten.
When my children were all young, I was really adamant about photo documentation. I studied good camera skills, bought a great camera which I carried everywhere, used the best film, had a favorite photo developer and regularly scrapbooked the many shots of my children growing up.
Digital cameras changed that…
We can take pictures of anywhere and of anything, and we can take an unlimited number of pics-
We are unrestricted by film and developing costs, and because our pictures can be stored digitally, we can take pictures as often as we want and only develop what we want to- we can weed out the ‘very best’ and discard the rest!
As wonderful as digital cameras are, they brought about a change to the very dynamic that made photos a truly special momento-
I have missed the joy of finding a lost roll of film, developing it to find some amazing pictures from my kiddos younger years,
I have missed the ‘stop and savor’ as I stood outside of the developers doors, to eager to look at AND enjoying EVERY picture in the lot- revisiting the tastes, smells, and smiles of the captured moment,
What was once a means to depict the ‘pricelessness’ of life’s journey AND the people in it has been redefined. Digital photos have taken the moments of life and made them mundane. We are ‘taking’ so many pictures that perhaps we are forgetting to live in the life we think we are documenting.
I have a few pictures in my home of ancestors whose stories and possessions are more abundant than the photos that depict their stories.
I have lace and buttons from a great, great grandfathers store and I have 4 infant dresses that were made by my great grandma’s sister who never had children of her own. As the oldest granddaughter AND the first to have daughters, I inherited these dresses- which have been worn (because that’s what she wanted) and then carefully preserved for my own granddaughters…
I have a great, great grandmother who guarded her family china as she travelled from England to the United States and then travelled from east to west in a covered wagon. I recall her story EVERY time I set the table for a family dinner and I find strength in knowing WHY she was so adamant about saving these dishes every time I feel overwhelmed by my role as a wife and mom.
Because there are so few, I can actually cherish the pictures and items that I have as priceless emblems of days long gone. Because the stories, like a fairy tale, are told from one generation to the next, these memories will endure because of the passion that has kept them securely rooted to our family.
This, in contrast, to my daughter, who recently cleared her phone of all the pictures she had stored… 1,972 photos- there were so many pictures she lost interest in looking through them all in an effort to minimize the download. She couldn’t remember where the pictures were all taken, what they were doing and sometimes couldn’t remember the names of who she was with!
A life in photos leaves no need for the story that goes with the picture. I love this thought that I read recently in a magazine;
“if your album can breathe, if it has gaps, then there’s space for you to add your own thoughts and feelings when you’re looking through it. And, if you want to know more about the gaps you can ask your brothers, sisters, aunts, or your old neighbor.”
Maybe the over abundance of photos is taking the moments out and time is simply passing us by. Maybe taking fewer shots will bring us back to watching for the shots worth taking.
I mentioned that I love to begin a yoga practice in child’s pose- it’s a relaxing posture that represents a humble acknowledgement of the gratitude of life.
Yoga begins and ends with a series of relaxing postures used to ‘warm up’ and ‘cool down’ the body and the mind. I love both ends of a practice:
I love the warm up as it allows us to clear our minds of clutter and to bring our attentions to the ‘here and now’. It’s a deliberate attempt to release the concerns of life and to be present in the right now.
I love the cool down for its ability to take from the practice the strength and energy of being in that moment. My breathing is always long, steady, slow, and deliberate as I take my final few sun salutations. This is my opportunity to take it all in and savor the moment.
The are times when I get in a stretch and I want to stretch more, longer, or deeper…
Or I get in a forward fold and I want to hang longer.
Or I get in a hold and want nothing more than to get OUT of it!
When we pause in each posture long enough to breathe into it,
we allow ourselves the benefit to process what we need from the posture before moving on to the next pose.
When we take it in, we claim the privilege of knowing what the “it’ is all about.
Savoring life’s moments, breathing in the beauty of being is our key to enjoying our blessings.
When we savor, we see beauty;
When we savor, we replace mundane with monumental.
When we savor, we feel-
and when we feel, we experience-
and when we experience, we cherish.