An interesting “debate” rises from this morning’s Muse of the Day blog.  There’s the quote from Eudora Welty that “a good snapshot stops a moment from running away,” followed by the comment that taking photographs sometimes (I paraphrase) takes the place of really looking at something.  It’s a pretty constant debate.

I agree with both sides.  I think a photograph is only worthwhile when the taker has allowed the image to enter her soul first.  Otherwise it’s just a photo.  I find myself more and more detached from my past.  Something has changed – photos used to mean more.  Now, in some strange way, I’m only concerned with the present – and a little bit, the future.

I was the family collector of photos, but that past is too far away now for those memories to have any significance.  So many of the people are gone, many more than are still here, I think.  So the people who connected me to my past — I think that’s it.  They’re either gone or they too are totally ensconced in their lives.

I would like to throw everything away.  Old music books, photos, every towel and sheet unused, even gizmo and gadget.  One robe, one bowl.

But what if I wake up one morning and need my past around me?  It could still happen.  Not likely, but it might.  Could I re-create my past without all those signposts?


8 thoughts on “Photographs

  1. Thanks, Shelley. I find that memories just don’t do for me what they once did. They seem too much like another me, so far from who I am. I think it may be characteristic of age. I’ll put it to my “oldies” poetry group.


    1. When it comes to old photos, we find comfort, or not, in looking at what has changed about ourselves. We can’t go back, but we can reflect or deflect with them. It is a personal preference. So many of the photos my mom had saved of my grandmothers, I have NO idea who is in the photos and they mean little to me. But my daughter LOVES old photos and has found ways to repurpose them and they bring her joy. You might want to sell your photos on Etsy instead of just tossing them?! I work with people who have dementia and admire the damaged brain’s ability to focus on the now moments. Struggling to remember the past brings about sadness. All we have is this moment right now, enjoy it and move on to the next.


    1. I just re-wrote the blog and took the poem away for now. There were other things, I think, I needed to say. I’d like very much for you to read this new version and,, if you can and would like, give me your response. Because I really am puzzled by this change of attitude toward the past, and your comment is a beacon of light. Don’t mean to sound dramatic — it’s just my nature!


      1. Many people say that to be excessively preoccupied with the past is to be depressed, just as being overly concerned about the future is to be anxious. To live well, thus, is to be present in this moment. While this is true to some extent, I feel that to forget the past is to forgo everything we have learned, and to ignore the future is to lose hope. Although letting go of the painful past may be liberating, it is important to recognise that we are whom we are because of our past: despite the scars we have grown, in strength, in wisdom, to be our real (if flawed) selves. I don’t know whether we need to do anything else apart from accept the old, so that we can then appreciate the now, and face the new. I suppose one could throw away all the signposts from the past, and still not be detached from it, as long as they are preserved in your heart.


      2. Wrote this somewhere else so I’ll paraphrase it here. Your sensitive comments and wisdom are welcome. In fact people in my past whom I loved are safely and forever in my heart. I don’t forget the past – I have a long, visual memory and forget very little. But I used to roll around in it too much, if you know what I mean, and now it just doesn’t “do anything” for me. I look ahead now more. But the past is there intact if/when I need it!

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