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Sunday, June 28, 2015

On Memories and Reality and Changes

Jean Sexton muses:

One of the things about moving is that I as I unpacked my unmarked boxes, I discovered old treasures. Sometimes it would be knickknacks; sometimes it would be books; sometimes it would be pictures. I have a near-photographic memory -- it only works when I am near photos. Finding these treasures brought back many memories.

I love Throwback Thursday on Facebook. I wanted to be an actress and when the camera turned on me, I was. There are pictures of me doing the Titanic pose well before that film came out. I had the coolest sunglasses back in 1964. There are photos from trips. Color or B&W, each one has its own interesting perspective.

And then there are the photos that I took. I love digital cameras. No more developing film to find that the whole batch is fuzzy. Just hit delete and the bad photos are gone, never to be seen again. My grandfather and mother were photographers; I even dated a photographer for a while. They taught me about composition and what makes a good photo. I absorbed their lessons.

So I am scanning some of the best of the old photos and saving them. I am lucky to have skilled friends who can remove the red from some of the faded photos and restore them to their vibrant blue skies. Then I bask in the memories that the pictures bring. As is typical for most families, the photos reflect happy times.

A friend brought up that I seemed to yearn for those happy times. In some ways, I do. It is so easy to wish for a simpler time when my parents were in control and my biggest worry was what to play next. But even then, life wasn't perfect. Would my friends like "this"? Would I do okay in school? Would I have to stay inside and practice handwriting? (It didn't help much; to this day my handwriting is a mystery to the uninitiated.) Would I be teased today? (Now they call it "bullying.") No, there were cares and worries even back then. They just weren't memorialized in photos.

I got asked if I would change anything. My first instinct was "YES!" No bullying, a little more popularity, some poor choices later in my life remade in a different direction, some things undone. My life would have been so more pleasant.

But would I be the same person? Would I have ended up in Amarillo, working for ADB? Would I have learned kindness and sympathy for others? Would I understand what it was to know that I had only $19 to my name and a bunch of debt (poor choices in a relationship)? Would I know that I had the inner courage to face an evil person and stand up to him? 

I don't know. I like who I am now. I learned to care about people. I learned that life is not always easy. I learned to stay on budget and pay off bills. I learned that I have courage when others are threatened. I like my job and the people here in Amarillo. I like my apartment. Without the adversity, I might not have grown as a person. Without the difficulties, I might have continued to drift where I was.

So I would choose not to change my past. However, I don't have to wallow in it, either. I choose to remember the good things, the happy times, my friends. And I choose to keep on living my life now, exploring where I am, meeting new people both in Amarillo and via the web. I will remember the lessons of the past so that I (hopefully) won't repeat them. And I will look to the future so that I think through some decisions so that I make good ones.

And I will keep scanning those old photos and sharing them with my friends. I can visit my happy memories, but remember to live today.