Pictures are a special part of our family's lives. Every big event gets to have its "story told." I have compiled many photo albums over the years and in the last few years have turned to digital photo books to capture the story of our lives. Major vacations, anniversaries, milestone birthdays, graduations, and now the wedding.... all get a photographic keepsake. We use them as reference books to pinpoint when something occurred or to clear up hazy memories. In essence, those many volumes are family history books. We are fortunate that our daughter has taken photography to the professional level and we can enjoy the fruits of her photographic talents. My camera, and now my phone, have always been handy for a quick picture of what we're doing or even for a selfie now and then! We have taken many family pictures when I set up my camera on some semi-stable object, clicked the right buttons and then ran to get positioned in the shot before the shutter clicked. I am glad that as I get older, and my running has slowed down, the ability to turn the camera view around and take a selfie has eliminated the need to run during photos (although I still have to get my head positioned correctly - dang bifocals!).
Some would say I'm a little obsessive. All the double prints we made over the years are organized in boxes and labeled by individual person or family group. It makes it handy when we need some pictures for an event. When a tornado warning has been issued for our area, I think about the people course of action first, then how I can grab my computer, phone, and purse, but I also think about how I'm going to save a few of those precious pictures. That is one of the blessings of digital photography and the technology that allows us to save it in a cloud (ironic that we use digital clouds for storage but real clouds form tornadoes!). That is comforting to obsessed people like me.
Why am I focusing on photographs as a topic for my blog post? Last weekend, my son and I spent a rainy day going through countless pictures for the 2 projects we were working on for the wedding. As I put the picture show together, my heart filled with love, pride, and a little wistfulness with each passing photo. I have wondered many times, aloud and to myself, where the time has gone. The pictures reminded me of everyday memories I had forgotten, and awakened feelings I had been too busy to allow to come to the surface. I smiled at their smiles, chuckled at parental hair styles and color, and wondered why I thought I was fat all those years ago! (Sorry I digress! ) He took snap-chats to send to his fiance of pictures he found that were funny or cute, but they would not use. She was supposed to be in weekend class, so this was probably a welcome distraction for her....or not!
The pictures we selected took us on a walk through their lives, leading up to the time they met as fellow trombone players in the K-State Marching Band, and the subsequent courtship, as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story." Their first picture together portrayed tentative smiles, almost forced. Yet just a few short weeks later, those smiles reflected true happiness and the love that was growing between them. I have seen pictures of his fiance's early life and I want to ask questions and have her tell me the stories behind those smiles and poses. A picture comes alive when it is connected to a story. And we deepen our connection with others with the stories we share.
I don't know how differently we would look at life if someone hadn't developed the capability to take pictures and preserve memories of loved ones, special places and events. Without these visual cues, many things would fade from our memory. While many people have boxes with pictures thrown in them, I have been a little OCD about taking pictures, putting them in scrapbooks and now digitally storing them. I am grateful for times like this which afford me the opportunity to spend hours simply remembering.
Photos spark interest and connect us to others. At weddings we use pictures to bring people together, to learn more about the other family, and create new bonds. At funerals we use pictures to comfort each other with memories of a life well-lived. Photos can make us feel like we were there. I have always loved looking at pictures of places I wanted to visit. I called them my vicarious vacation photos! As a teacher, photos help students "see" what you want them to learn, or create interest or appeal. Textbooks and cookbooks are so much easier for us to learn from when there are pictures. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
These moments, captured by film, or digitally as we do today, are treasures. As the credit card commercial reminds us, they may even be "priceless." Stories associated with those cherished pictures make them all the more real and strengthen the bond between the story teller and the listener. On Sunday we honored and remembered all the musicians in our church, past and present. Included in this celebration were pictures, and stories of those who have provided us with music each week by playing the piano, organ, or some other musical instrument. We told stories; we sang their favorite songs; we laughed and remembered days gone by. But then we dedicated our new electric piano that can do so many things because of the technology that makes up for the talent we lack. With the push of a button our music can sound like an orchestra instead of a single musician. And such is our life.
While the photos we enjoy bring back many memories of wonderful times spent with family and friends, we can hold them close; we can remember, but we can't live in the past or the way it used to be. It is important to remember, honor, learn from, and take the time to make those connections to our past, but equally important to recognize that life is to be lived forward. By doing that we will make new memories and the cycle will continue.
So while I finish up on the picture show that will debut at the rehearsal dinner, I will also be thinking about the pictures I'll be looking at in 10 years or 20 years from now. Who will be new to our family photos? Who will be missing? Where will we have traveled? What goals will have been achieved? What lessons will have been learned? Once again I'll look back and think, "Where has the time gone?"