Whether they are paper photo albums or digital photos we all have batches of old photographs. The drawers that store them are bulging, and we haven’t the the time to look them. Not to mention the courage to get rid of any of them.
Photos of places, where we lived and where we visited. Places we studied, places we worked.
We could spend half a lifetime revisiting our former lives.
How do you feel when you see your past through these photographic images?
When I look at pictures of my children as young babies, toddlers and pre-teens I wonder, Did I realize how adorable they were? Did I appreciate them? Or was I always so busy that I didn’t take the time to see and enjoy them for the miracles that they were?
Thornton Wilder, in his beautiful play, “Our Town,” brings back his young heroine, Emily, from the dead, to relive an ordinary day in her past. As she looks at the old family house and enters the kitchen she sees her mother.
She exclaims, “Mama, I’m here. Oh! how young Mama looks! I never knew Mama was ever that young.”
Perceptions change. Images are startling. Do any of us remember that anyone from our past was ever that young?
Can you at those smiling images in your albums and see yourself the way you were then? Before you knew what would happen between then and now to the family and friends in those pictures? Before you knew about the experiences ahead that you would love or the ones you would be forced to endure?
Nobody can see or predict the future, but it is astounding to know the way fate turned in so many cases.
This Monday is the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashona, the start of the New Year, a time to reflect on the passing year and take stock of life. To look back on memories of the year as if they were photographs in an album.
If this year doesn’t start off the way you hope to remember, look forward to celebrating the secular New Year on December 31st: another New Year that offers a fresh start. And if the fates are still unkind try again on the Chinese New Year in February. There are countless times, ways and reasons to start over again and try to get it right.
I hope you fill your memory’s photograph albums with thoughts and images to enjoy: thoughts and images worth looking back upon.