I haven’t gotten much done this week, even though I’ve been working long hours each day. It’s not entirely a bad thing, though, that I haven’t accomplished much given all the time I’ve spent at the computer.
My project this week has been to develop a journal to accompany my “Successful Surrogacy” book. Because the main thrust of the book is sorting through and clarifying your own feelings about infertility, surrogacy, and relationships, I thought that offering a companion journal would be really helpful - it will be a downloadable PDF that people can print and fill in, or use as a fillable form on the computer. Neat, right?
To keep the journal consistent with the look and feel of the book (and, quite frankly, also because it looks pretty), I’m adding images of flowers to the pages of the journal. And luckily for me, I seem to have a low-level addiction to taking pictures of flowers. I have no idea why, but for years I’ve been drawn to taking pictures of flowers - hundreds of pictures of flowers - with no plan in mind for what to do with them.
So this week? Jackpot.
But telling you about my flower picture addition is not the point. The point is telling you why I’ve wasted so much time this week and why it wasn’t actually wasteful. Convoluted? Yeah, bear with me.
In order to find the flower photos that I needed, I had to sort through over 20,000 photos on my laptop. These are only the photos from the past 8 years or so, prior to that I have all my photos on CDs. But in looking through my past 8 years of photos, it was fun to see the great photos I’ve taken over the years - the ones on vacations, at sports, of the pets, on birthdays, etc.
But you know what was even more fun? Seeing all the crappy pictures I’ve taken over the years. Those were the ones that were really interesting to look at.
Those photos were the ones I probably barely gave a passing glance to at the time, writing them off as “bad shots” but too lazy to delete from my photo library. But now, many years later, I am oh-so-glad that I didn’t delete them!
Because you know what? Those beautiful and memorable photos I took give me one version of my family history. You might call it a “greatest hits” or “Facebook” version of my life. It’s nice to see that, don’t get me wrong.
But the crappy, dark, blurry, cluttered, kids-looking-away, house-is-a-wreck, photos? Those are the ones that took me back to those wonderful moments in time (and some not-so-wonderful, but still memorable). Those are the photos that truly held the memories for me.
In this cell phone day and age it’s quick and easy to take and delete photos without a passing glance, and largely, that’s a good thing. It’s great that most of us have a camera at our fingertips, which is a huge change from days gone by (though I’m not a carry-my-cell phone-on-me-at-all-times gal, so I don’t always haven mine handy, especially when I’m in the house). Regardless, my ability to record my family’s life is at an all-time high, and the same is probably true for you as well.
So snap away! And when you find pictures that are way too dark, way too blurry, or mis-fires of a blank sky or the rug or the pavement, go ahead and hit delete.
But the rest? I implore you to keep them. Download them and save them in a safe place (and a safe place means putting them on more than just your laptop or desktop computer - store them on an external hard drive, on thumb drives, on CDs, on the Cloud, wherever - just keep them in more than one place). And don’t just put the “good” shots away for safekeeping - put them ALL away for safekeeping.
Because you never know, years from now when you’re pouring through your photos, looking for a specific event, your definition of “good shot” is very likely to have changed. And that’s a wonderful thing. Even, and maybe especially, if it doesn't feel that way right now.