“People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly.” — Andy Warhol
I’m not quite sure why, but it seems like a lot of my friends are trending towards nostalgia. More folks are using old photos for their profile pictures on Facebook and other networking places on the web. I’m in the mainstream, because I’ve been practicing that for a couple of years. I’m not a huge nostalgia freak, I almost consider it a personal tick whenever I indulge in the urge to go through old photo albums and cigar boxes full of unfiled snapshots. I indulge myself, anyway. It’s fun.
I think it’s a crying shame that film/emulsion type photography is going the way of the dodo bird. I love digital photography, but I tend to shoot a lot of photos. Most of them don’t get printed. Instead they either get filed on a thumbdrive, parked onto Photobucket or simply deleted.
If you aren’t printing a few photos now and then, you’re losing a very important resource in keeping track of your family’s and your own personal lives. There’s nothing quite like stumbling across an old box of photographs. I don’t need to say how pleasurable it is to study the vintage prints. Maybe you have some that came your way from your parents and grandparents. Priceless!
Sorting through a computer file of jpgs just doesn’t feel the same. Going through some slide trays of Ektachromes and Kodachromes comes close, but you need to set up the projector for them. Hopefully you have a bulb for that. Projector bulb prices are stratospheric, so good luck there. I haven’t projected my slides in ages. I know I’m missing out on some great images. In the future, will accessing digital files be just as inconvenient? Will they error out? Will they vanish from “The Cloud”? Get some prints soon, while you’re thinking about it.
But the boxes and albums of prints tell a story. One that is compressed more than we’d like it to be.
“This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance… A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.” — Shakyamuni Buddha
I found some old tee shirts and sweatshirts in the back of my closet yesterday. I remember when I bought them as souvenirs decades ago on vacation trips. It seems like only yesterday I experienced those vacations. But no, the shirts don’t fit and they smell a bit musty. I’ll end up giving them to Goodwill anyway. I have tons of momentos.
Someday, I’ll need to downsize even more. All I’ll really want to keep will be those old snapshots. Someday, hopefully a couple of decades hence, I’ll look back at 2011 like it was only yesterday. I wonder if I’ll still have the photos. I wonder if a century hence, will anyone find them. I wonder if anyone will see this lifetime of mine compressed into a single flash of lightning from long ago.
What is the point of thinking about our personal lightning bolt? Maybe we’ll set our priorities differently? Maybe some motivation to be thankful for our time and to use it wisely and celebrate each moment will arise? Perhaps to trigger a reality check? Maybe to defrost our hearts and turn loose the love and compassion we need to share?
Don’t forget the photos. Don’t forget the allegory about the lightning.
The Blue Jay of Happiness reminds us of the impermanence of permanence.