Lately, I’ve been taking a cue from the tenants at the property I manage. After a long day of working in the fields they come home and sit outside. Sometimes they visit with others, and sometimes they just sit there by themselves.
I started doing this more often as a way to just relax and have some quiet time. I call it “the art of sitting outside,” and think this art is something we all need to practice on a regular basis. I just came inside from some time at the patio table on this wonderful Southern Idaho evening, and my time outside was delightful.
As some of you know, and may have grown tired of me saying it, I’ve been writing a book on and off for the last fourteen years or so. Since this project has spanned over fourteen years, I would strongly argue more off than on has happened in the writing practice. For a variety of reasons one of my current goals is to finish the book soon and self-publish it. So, in about 10 years I should have it done!
Last night I spent a couple of hours doing some good work on this project and realized over the years I have written way too many musings for one book, and some essays that just aren’t book worthy … not yet anyway. In an effort to thin and improve I thought I would tweak some of them and use them for my podcast I’m planning on starting back up or adapt them for this blog/web-page.
Here are some thoughts I first wrote in 2006 and have modified over the years.
Honestly, in some situations, I would love to return to simpler times. The advances in camera and phone technology are truly amazing, but every now and them I prefer the simplicity of loading a roll of 35 mm film into a camera and talking on a rotary phone. With photography, I use to love finishing up a roll of film, taking the film to be developed into photographs, and then taking those photographs home and looking through them to remember good and maybe not so good times.
Shortly after the year 2000 (sing “in the year 2000” from the old Conon O’Brian show), we could have even received the gift in the year 2000, Heidi and I were given a digital camera for Christmas, our first, and we were so excited about our new Fuji and being able to take and store photographs digitally. As you already know, since we are already 18 years removed from the year 2000 (again Conon O’ Brian), one of the great features, among many, of digital cameras is how many pictures you can take and store. Storing a countless number of pictures on the camera, on a smart phone, on a computer, somewhere in a cloud, or some other option I haven’t mentioned. The digital pictures, like any other pictures are fun to look at and because of the technology we now possess we are able to post them on-line in a matter of seconds and share our lives in pictures with friends and family through e-mail, and social media sites.
One of the problems with digital photography and digital cameras and smart phones, at least when the people owning them are poor, is the pictures stay in digital form and are rarely printed off. I know digital pictures can be printed off and made to look like a regular old photography by when there isn’t a lot of extra money in the budget, like when Heidi and I first got our camera, the 1000’s of pictures you take stay on the computer and are soon forgotten about and only occasionally viewed. (I realize some of these thoughts might be outdated in a world of Snap-Face when the goal is for the picture to disappear, or Insta-Crap where the goal of making sure everyone knows how you look 100 times a day from an arm length away, but they are still a reality for me, and they make the story flow.)
I sat down at my desk at work one morning 14 or so years ago and I pushed the power button on my computer only to have nothing happen. My computer, like my dad van most of the time, wouldn’t turn on and our technology support person confirmed my worst fear, the computer’s hard drive was friend and none of the files on it could be retrieved. Immediately I thought about all of the files that had been lost because I failed to back them up and was devastated as I remembered all of our family pictures I had been storing on the computer until we got a computer at home to transfer them to. I felt especially horrible because there were a lot of pictures on the computer from when our middle son Jacob was born, and now we didn’t have them anymore. No Bueno.
After this incident I attempted to be more diligent in backing up files to avoid this disaster again. Unfortunately, I fell back into my lazy habits and as life got busy I had backed up some files but not all of them when we had one of our computers crash again. Luckily, some of the files were able to be saved but we were not able to salvage all of them. Unfortunately, once again most of the pictures we lost were of Jacob our middle son and some of his major life moments.
Again, as before, I was devastated and felt horrible for a few days until I was reminded I got to see my son every day and could probably scrounge up some pictures from family members. I also figured when he got older I could just tell him like some conservative Anabaptist groups there were a few years we didn’t believe in taking photos for religious reasons.
The funny thing is, now all of our digital photos are backed up, either on a jump drive or a cloud-based storage space, and I hardly ever look at them. I look at the pictures we have taken and printed off and have around the house, but rarely do I go and look at pictures taken years ago. Kind of like how I treat the old videos we recorded with the boys where little.
While the moral of this story was supposed to encourage you to make sure you back up your digital photographs, there are some other lessons we can learn here.
1) Enjoy the moment. We don’t have to capture everything with our phones or cameras, sometimes it is just good to soak everything in and really experience the moment. I’m afraid we miss out on a whole bunch when we are trying to capture everything for later or to post online, instead of living in the moment.
2) I hardly ever look at the pictures we have captured over the years, the ones we still have, but I have so many great memories and pictures in my head that I can relive. I know for me remembering is a good way to connect with the past, while am living in the future.
3) Don’t just take pictures, look at them too. When you look at them, tell the stories of what was going on. I have a picture of my first-grade birthday to remind me of who was there that day to help me celebrate but looking at that photograph also reminds me of all the fun I had. The cool thing is I see some of those same guys every once and awhile in person or on social media.
4) Be grateful for what we do have, instead of lamenting about what we don’t have.