A few years ago I was fortunate to have breakfast with an astronaut who flew a mission on the space shuttle.
I remember being fearful of asking the same questions he’s been asked a thousand times, but I went ahead and asked them anyway. It was a fascinating conversation.
When breakfast was over and it was time to leave, I had one final question, “What was the single most amazing thing about outer space?”
His answer caught me off guard, but made a lot of sense.
“It’s like taking a vacation, say to the Grand Canyon.” He explained, “ And you take a bunch of pictures because it’s so beautiful and amazing. When you get home, you show the pictures to your friends, but they don’t look that impressive. This is in fact, every picture you have ever seen of outer space. Pictures don’t capture the stunning experience of being there!”
I guess we’ve all taken pictures to that effect.
After Dad died, my sister and I sorted through his belongings, including album upon album of scenic photos from his travels with Mom. It felt strange throwing them into the dumpster.
I guess the astronaut was right.
When we ran across pictures of Mom and Dad, we kept them. Photographs of loved ones create short cuts to moments more precious than we realized at the time.
Jackson Browne captures this in a favorite lyric:
“Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer, I was taken by a photograph of you.”
Who hasn’t been “taken by a photograph?”
Photographs provide an important lesson. Pictures of scenery never look as good as the experience we remember, while pictures of people remind us of times we failed to fully appreciate in the moment.
There’s a common theme there!
Time messes with us. We’re either rushing forward, or reminiscing about the “good old days.”
Photographs remind us that the secret of life is found in this very moment.
I love photography, but lately, I’ve been taking fewer pictures, and placing more attention on the moments of my life.
Carly Simon nailed it in another favorite lyric:
“These are the good old days!”
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