Picture Past


And this me back when I was an ungrateful wretch...

And this me back when I was an ungrateful wretch…

It was for no discernible reason that I decided to go through the folder labeled “Photos” on my desktop computer- except maybe for the sake of curiosity. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, it had just been a while since I’d looked at it and I wondered what had accumulated.

A lot, as it turns out.

Research for old film projects, photos of the Polar Vortex hitting Chicago, reference for historical figures like Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Khalo, etc. I found myself looking over family photos from five and ten years ago documenting canoeing in the Boundary Waters, three separate weddings, visits with family out east, moving into my first apartment, birthdays, holidays, and photos of seasonal floral and landscape elements taken by my Mom to for the making of greeting cards.

It was quite the walk down memory lane. Looking back on my young self I feel so old by comparison- not that I’m actually that old (although I joke about it a lot), but looking at the photos showing the effortless glow of health and youth I can’t help but feel a bit rueful that I didn’t bask in it more at the time. From the photographs it is easy to forget everything else that was going on at the time: how one picture shows me smiling even though I was at one of the most depressed periods of my life after not getting into film school the first time around, or how another picture shows me relaxing beside a tranquil lake when I was fighting off fits of anxiety over my first job, or how I manage to look cheerful while organizing wedding details while in reality I was so chronically tired at the time that I was verging on irrational. I suppose this is true of most peoples’ photos: that smiling for the camera hides a lot of the reality of life: the boredom and the depression and the weariness and the stress. But then again, I already remember all the boredom, weariness and stress- there’s no need to advertise it.

Maybe it’s not so important to record life in cinema verite and just be grateful to have photos of so many great memories. They were great moments, after all, no matter what their context. Even flipping through the photographs I can hardly believe how lucky I am to have had them.

May it only get better from here.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 11, 2015.

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