Marie Kondo and Photographs

Okay, okay, so I’m a little late to the game this month.  But there are still two days left and we’re all just trying to keep our heads above water, aren’t we?  And in an effort to gain some control over my life, I resorted to cleaning and organizing—a task that also proves how short my attention span has become (or how cluttered my mind is!).  I did, however, stumble across some old photographs in an album that sparked the urge to write.

This little flowered photo album contained photographs from the very first camera I owned…when I was around 7 years old. The pictures are grainy and my “artsy” skills were either from genius or the inability to correctly frame, but I realized something very poignant. These were images of my house, my brother and his friend goofing around in the driveway, the pumpkins I carved at Halloween, my cat “watching” Sesame Street…. They were all mundane things that happened daily; no one was dressed up or posed. But they were my life. These were the most important parts of my childhood. And I realized that I really have only good memories of my childhood, with the occasional memory of crying because I didn’t get the solo in the Christmas program in 3rd grade. I all at once felt extremely lucky and extremely guilty.

I recognize that not everyone has the same privilege.  Yes, I know that is a very loaded word these days.  But that’s exactly what it is.  My husband did not grow up with that privilege.  And the more I see how his childhood trauma shaped his world view, the more I am reminded how incredibly important these formative years are to the psyche.  We are arguably in an unprecedented era of humanity.  Technology has made it possible to document every waking minute of every hour, and we can capture and preserve memories through a multitude of different media sources.  So why is it so hard to throw away (or delete) photos?  

My friend K and I had a very real conversation about how she can’t bring herself to delete any pictures of her son.  She’ll choose the best ones to print out, but cannot delete those that didn’t make the cut.  I myself have been scanning photographs (hence the find!) in an effort to digitalize all of my albums and scrapbooks and declutter my life.  Once I scan the pictures, I burn them.  It’s incredibly cathartic.  Something about releasing the memories back into the universe is profoundly spiritual to me.  Returning back to where we came from and releasing the past.  As Marie Kondo says, thank it and let it go.

So where am I going with this? I don’t really know. I just found it really inspiring to look at how my 7-year-old self saw the world. No photoshop, no filter, no likes. Candid camera at its best.

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