An influential professor in my life once told us that photos are not memories. Memories are so much more than what the photos can hold. If we remember only what is captured on film, then we have forgotten some of the best days of our lives. I have often thought back to this when I have wished I had my camera or missed the perfect shot. Remember this moment, I remind myself, not for its image, but for its being.
These days, I find that my mind works in snapshots. Perhaps I have just had too much Instagram, but when I am at my most alert best, my mind sees real life in freeze frames. Like a mental photo album that says, “Wow, this is a great moment. Snap. Savor this.” (Often times, thanks to my omnipresent iPhone (whose, incidentally, hands-down worst feature is its phone capability), it is an actual photo as well).
In the middle of perhaps some of the fullest days of our lives where the pace promises only to accelerate, yesterday, I decided to put myself up to a challenge. We face our final days in a home we love, final meet ups and work days and traveling. Packing and unsettling and visiting and resettling. And, in the blur that is to come, I realize I want to focus. Not internally but externally. Not ephemerally but significantly. To take the fast-paced, task-listed, activity-filled days and turn each into a single moment; a single reflection. To snap and savor.
It is really not meant to be profound. Rather a snapshot of the normal as we transition. 10 weeks. 70 days. To post a snap a day. Perhaps serious, perhaps hilarious, perhaps minute, perhaps grand, perhaps draining, perhaps energizing. Hopefully revealing, hopefully beyond ourselves. Never complete or all-encompassing. Never intending to replace our most potent and vivid memories. Just an image. A snapshot to trace our transition and remind us to savor. 70 of them.
Yeah, that 70 is slightly intimidating, but what truly good thing is not at least a little bit unnerving. Right?
Yesterday, when I came up with this idea, there were a dozen moments that I thought to capture; that told a piece of the story of our day and also spoke beyond the day. A bowl of rice with milk and peanut butter, reminding me of my dad and his days in Africa as a boy. A scene of toddlers throwing torn newspaper up in the air, our blondy smiling among a sea of black headed littles, reminding me of the gift that this time in Japan has been. A pair of “room shoes” that were a prerequisite to preschool, only for indoor use, reminding me of the quirky details that have become normal. A sink of dishes that was abandoned in favor of reading a book, reminding me that sometimes I do allow memory-making to trump tasks. A plate of raw salmon, salmon roe, rice, and seaweed that has become her favorite meal, reminding me that favorites are relative to culture and community. An empty space on the couch where a (huge) pile of clean laundry used to reside, reminding me that sometimes it does get done. A moment of squeaky clean brother-sister snuggles in hooded bath towels, reminding me of my mom who made the towels and the deep gratefulness for those commonplace sibling moments.
Today, however, it did not really occur to me that I should pause. That I should capture. At the end of the day, here I sit, flipping through my 7 photos from the day, none snapped with all that much thoughtfulness. Two of them are of a screaming toddler. Three of them are food. Two of them are pictures of feet on a floor of spilled quinoa.
Great. Day 1, and I already forgot to savor.
But then, as I was pulling my thoughts together and reflecting on my day, it occurred to me that this is the moment to savor, the right now. So, here it goes…Day 1.
A few hours to steal away into the quietude of the corner of the dining room (with the help of BOSE and ABC Jazz radio).
To remember that the refueled self is the most effective and generous self, more ready and able to see and help outside myself.
A reminder that I definitely ate at least a quarter of a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips in the process. And. that. was. good.