I know that the best part about starting a blog should be writing the posts, but for me it’s been taking the pictures. Which is shocking to me and anyone who has known me well, as I am a person who had to be coerced to take a friend’s camera with me when I studied abroad in England oh so many years ago. Even then, I took two rolls of film and that was it. I cherished the photos afterward, however, the shots of me, Dave, and Mary—my closest friends from that summer—posing under the arches of Gonville and Caius; playing Hearts with cards we had drawn and cut out of pieces of white paper when no shop in town carried a deck; and finally, dressed up for the final banquet, arm in arm, the picture not saying to anyone but me how unwilling I was to say goodbye to either friend.
Still, after that summer, which was more years ago than I care to recall, I often did not carry a camera with me to places I went. If I have photos from travels with friends and family, it’s mostly because someone else took a camera and sent me the photos. My rationale has always been that if a moment was important enough, I would remember it. I didn’t want to accumulate more reminders of my past, especially when it came to photos of boyfriends who became ex-boyfriends, especially the ones I shouldn’t have dated in the first place either because I was blind to how unmatched we were, or because I didn’t follow my own best practices of dating.
I didn’t want a picture album of mistakes I had made, times that had past, or places I had been that I did not go any longer. I am highly prone to feeling sad and nostalgic when I look back on my life: I don’t need the photos to worsen the feelings.
Or so I told myself. I love the photos I do have of my family over the years: dad with his 70s moustache and mom with her bell bottoms, my sister with hair in a bow and me with my bowl cut. But I didn’t take the photos. Someone else did.
Sometimes, now, I wish I had taken more pictures. I wish I would take more pictures of friends and family. But after a lifetime of not taking them, I forget I have a camera on my iPhone.
Except when I am alone. Because of my blog—and when I am by myself—I now spend less time in my head and more time noticing the world around me. Like today on my walk, I saw garden statues and bird houses I had never noticed in my neighbors’ gardens.
I won’t put a photo album together of these objects I now notice; they don’t hold deep meaning. I won’t need to remember all the little things the camera is helping me see. There will be another moment soon, and I’ll need to be paying attention to whatever that moment offers me.
*quote in title is from the Buddha.