A few weeks ago our computer began to crash so I backed up its contents.
After the re-installation process I ended up with a mishmashed, bloated photo library. Through a long, winding process, which I won't describe here, my nearly 6,000 count swelled to over 13,000. Better too many than not enough, but still.
Yesterday I began the tedious, time-consuming process of deleting the duplicates. Four years of photos and you know what I discovered for the umpteenth time? Life is beautiful. Imperfect, but beautiful. Interesting, deserving of my attention far more than the books I read, the movies I watch, or the blogs I enjoy - including my own.
With each series of photos I reviewed came remembrances, emotions. Bodies changing, scenery, too. But the fantastic thing was that these were not just photos of people, places, and events, no, these were memories filled with taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing beyond the borders of each frame. In my mind every photo came to life just as in Harry Potter's world. Love, laughter, pain, irritation, beauty, sounds and smells, breezes and heat, hellos and good-byes, the pleasures of life and its trials, too. The photos aren't fictional artistic renderings, they are pieces of my life, very real representations of my history, my forming.
Once again I was reminded that life is broader and more complicated than photos can depict or words iterate, than movies can portray or music evoke. We all know this. Literature and other artistic outpourings have their place in aiding our understanding and giving voice to our afflictions and triumphs. But it dawned on me that as we've become a sort of Wal-Mart world - where cheap and easy imitations are greedily snatched and exhibited as though they are the real thing - we have begun to lose the deep, the genuine. Imitation confuses us. Quantity bludgeons quality. Ambition conquers excellence.
While truth surrounds us always, too often it's the imposter who successfully lures our attention. While the mystery that is life beautifully carries on we look away, choosing instead to focus on the battering inferior substitutions which rain around us, drenching our cognizance, sapping our strength with their ever-presence. Writings of worth are buried under heaps of mediocrity or worse. The same is so of music, films, theater, dance, family, home, and more. Dazed, we accept the heaps and bemoan our loss.
My heart sighs, whispers to the human race, "Together, let us trade the Wal-Mart world of subpar books, demoralizing music, gratuitous movies, mindless television, and wasted, empty-calorie living for that low-ceilinged, fusty shop run by the gentleman with a heart and the too-small studio of the soulful artist. Discard the pointless and rude, repeatedly relish that which uplifts or gives reflection. Mourn with the crushed, lend a hand. Stop and listen to the life-battered street musician, or the teen victoriously getting it right on his saxophone. Leave a cold television set or that popular paperback for a night at the cultural center; a good play, a creative exhibit, awe-inspiring dance, or live, mood-altering music, all of which offer the element of 'oops'. Vigorously scrape off the barnacles of cheap, popular, and easy. Tenaciously seek under and throughout for the genuine. Awaken to love in your midst - embrace it. Pack essential gear, load family into the car, head not for a campground or an RV park but for the wilderness of beach or woods, desert or jungle. Submit to the elements. Thrill to survive. Learn a secret or two. Dare to discriminate. Pop soap bubble delusions, demand the genuine. Come to know the difference between the many and the few. Discover heart, discover life."