Yesterday was Easter, and I brought Gia over to my mom’s house for her first Easter festivities. As soon as we walked in the door, she immediately saw her Easter “basket” (which was actually a red Radio Flyer Wagon filled with goodies) and started walking towards it squealing. I did the first thing I thought of – dug through my purse to find my iPhone so I could take pictures.
I snapped one picture when my phone froze. Then it informed me THERE WAS NO MORE ROOM ON MY PHONE TO STORE PHOTOS. So, I could not take another single picture until I deleted something else. Panic happened. Pure, desperate panic. I was MISSING THE MOMENT!! Gia was excidedly having her first Easter experience and I COULDN’T DOCUMENT IT IN PHOTOS until I deleted some of the old memories!
I have my photos printed, Facebooked, on my phone, on my computer, and in Shutterfly albums both virtual and actual. These photos exist in so many places. A large chunk are backed up on Dropbox and in other cloud storage. But I could not bear the thought of deleting one.
We are told to “embrace the moment” and enjoy all these little memories with our child. They grow so fast and time pushes on before we are ready. To me this translated to preserving these memories in photos so they are never lost. It translated into my aching attempt to exert control over something I have no control over: how many moments I will be given. That maybe, if I document every moment, they will never be really gone.
Taking these literally thousands of pictures is my desperate attempt to trick time. I am greedily grasping at memories and pulling them all around me as fast as I can because I CANNOT MISS ANYTHING.
I CANNOT MISS ANYTHING.
But I am missing something. I am trying so hard to catch just the right angle, the right expression, the right mood to capture the moment that I am not even a part of it anymore. I am a bystander with a camera, a tourist to my own life. I am missing the rich quality of the moment that no photo can capture. The smell of sugar cookies my mom pulled out of the oven as we arrived, the cool Spring breeze that lightly pushed Gia’s hair out of her face, the sound of Sunday golf droning quietly in the background, the electricity in the air of seeing a child see something for the very first time.
I know logically that I can’t freeze time. But I want to. Sometimes I want to so bad that it hurts.
I’m going to have to let go. My phone/computer/camera can only hold so many memories before I have to move on and make some room for new ones. I cannot bear to delete a single photo from her first day of life, and I need to keep some milestone snapshots along with a few pictures of the beautifully mundane. So my phone will resemble my mind: those early memories take up a lot of space, as do the more recent experiences. And what remains in the middle are some big moments and some imperfect, simple, endearing stills of life.
Today I deleted 600 pictures from my phone. I had to do it all at once before I lost my courage. Today Gia and I went outside and did a bunch of adorable things. There will not be a single picture of us doing those things. But they happened.
“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
A recovering memory hoarder