|The Country Wagon – Maine, NY|
We all have different ways of holding onto our most cherished things and loved ones. My Father clung to his video camera at every function and spent hours afterward re-watching and editing for future posterity. I have very vivid memories of him sitting on the couch and watching a performance of my sisters’ and me over and over, with an expression that I understand now to have been pure and tremendous pride. As has often happened since the birth of my children, I am revisiting much of his behaviors and habits as I recognize them so clearly in myself. Now, through a parent’s eye, I understand them on a different level. I too, seem to be quite obsessed with creating digital memories. In fact, one of the many things adding to the constant feeling of “catch up”, is the fact that I have yet to complete photo books 2009 and 2010. They have been on a “to do” list every day for over a year. Now, as hundreds of VHS video tapes lay on the grass, in my mother’s futile attempt to preserve them, I am left to wonder what we do this for. What is this magical time in the future for which we are waiting to revisit these memories? And, does it in fact keep us quite distant from experiencing our lives fully right now?
I say this with the acceptance that I will continue to carry around my flip video camera and create movies of my children. I get as much joy out of making and sharing them as I understand my Father did. At the time, I remember being frustrated that his camera was a constant appendage and wishing he could just simply “be” at the event and enjoy it. So, while I can appreciate now his need to savour these moments, I wonder if my children have the same sense that I am not always “present” and with them. However, perhaps on some level it is because of the “fog” and chaos I’m feeling so frequently, that I feel the need to capture so many moments, for fear that I am not quiet and centered enough to remember them. Either way, as I think about the untimely death of my Father and wonder how much he actually got to enjoy his masterpieces, I feel that maybe the practice simply calls for more awareness.
We live in a world that is rapidly becoming completely technological. Every phone and gadget has a camera and these snapshots and videos can be shared instantly across cyberspace. “Hold still! Let me grab my phone! I’ve got to send this to Nana!” Instead of “Wow! You guys look so silly and adorable right now. Can I join you as you make each other giggle with funny faces?” While I am so thankful to be able to share these tender and funny moments with my family, whom all live 3000 miles away, I might try to practice more mindfulness throughout the day and absorb some of these treasured “snapshots” with a deep breath and sigh of gratitude just for myself.
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