Truth is that my memory has never been real strong. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that in order for me to remember things…any thing…I needed to write it down and see it. It was a tedious way to learn, but necessary. If I were in school today they would probably slap a label on that, but back then you had to find your own strategies to compensate. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.
Today I began to wonder if this is why I take so many pictures. Long before the era of iPhones and the obsession of everything needing to be at your finger tips, I was documenting my world and the people in it. I was happy to be a part of a world that didn’t rely on film, because the more I took, the better my chances of getting them just so. But that wasnt what I was going for.
I am highly sensate. Meaning, I feel things more intensely than most. Not just raw emotions from a conversation or two, but even from things I see around me. I am awestruck by beauty, especially things I can relate to or things that remind me of my past. And my incessant picture-taking has been a way for me to access the love of what makes me happy…anytime I want. I never thought of it as any more than that.
After my first official day of summer at the beach, the 2nd summer without my mom in this world, I noticed the bright pink sky unexpectedly and hurried down the stairs to see the sunset. I paused at the bottom of the stairs, thinking I should at least grab my phone, bu convinced myself that maybe just for today I could simply be present to the moment. I hear that a lot. Like maybe not everything needs a picture as much as being present in the moment.
I headed down the street to see my first ever sunset…without a camera of any sort.
As I walked, I felt overwhelmed with how beautiful it was. The colors were radiant. I tried to analyze it, decipher how many colors there were. I tried to recall if I had ever seen one so beautiful. And while it was hard to stare too long since the sun was so bright, I couldn’t look away. The way the lines created such beauty in the sky, silenced me.
Within minutes my heart started to race as I watched this bright sunshine fall into the earth, signaling another day gone by.
How would I remember this? Surely no one could ever recall exactly what this one looked like without seeing it in a picture. How would I remember this first sunset of the summer without mom, if I didn’t have the picture of it for later?
I began to have a sinking feeling as I forced myself to watch the sun set and then began racing back to the house as my brain scrambled to hold the memory. I knew this wouldn’t be a memory I could contain and as if to prove myself right, my brain began to run the photo reel it had stored. All I could think about though were the pictures that were missing. Images not as clear as I remembered. Difficulty trying to recall the true colors in my boys eyes, the sweet lines of my moms face when she would smile. The way she looked at me when she held my hand in the hospital…tears began to stream down my face.
My quick footsteps moved into a light jog with a hopefulness that I might make it just in time. I ran the stairs, grabbed my phone and headed for the balcony. Maybe, just maybe something was still left. Something I could hold onto….
And there it was. Not nearly the way I had seen it just minutes before, but just enough, to remind me of how eloquent it was. How much it made me appreciate each passing moment of my life, each ending of the day that continued to give me a brand new tomorrow…
Maybe it isn’t that I’m obsessed with taking pictures. It’s just that…well…without them I am just afraid I will forget…