This is a photo of the oldest, dearest man in my life, my dad, and the newest, sweetest boy in my life, my little grandson taken two weeks ago at Ashton’s 1st birthday party. This is why I fell in love with photography when I was just a teenager. Because a photograph is never just a photograph. The light and shadows of an image hold the mercy and vulnerability of life itself, the beginning and the end, a single breath—in one hundredth of a second the shutter is released and a secret is revealed. Sometimes I think it’s almost selfish, the way the camera allows us to capture a moment like this, snatch it right out of thin air before it disappears forever in a stream of faded memory. And yet…this is why I fell in love with photography when I was just a teenager.
I had a lovely visit with a friend and her granddaughter recently and I couldn’t help but bring my camera along when I met baby Claire so I could chase her around and take a few pics. She’s a cutie and it didn’t take her long to simply ignore the strange lady with the big black camera lens stuck to her face and go about her baby busyness. I’ve noticed on Twitter and various blogs recently that some people are choosing a single word as their New Year’s resolution. I like that idea, coming up with a one word theme that we want to honor, or infuse into our lives as we begin another year. Watching Claire explore her grandma’s house that afternoon was very relaxing and even mood boosting and it reminded me how as grown-ups we often forget the importance of play. Of doing something “just because”, with no agenda, no expectation of what we will get out of an activity, what we will accomplish.
My daughter got a small white kitten before she moved out a few years ago. I was going through some difficult things at the time but “Mr. Boo” didn’t know, or care about my troubles, he just wanted me to drag a piece of string across the floor so he could chase it. As it turns out, the hours I spent sitting on the floor playing with him was good medicine because play is the opposite of depression. Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneering researcher in the field of play, said in a TED video, “Nothing lights up the brain like play. Three-dimensional play fires up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe–the executive portion–and helps contextual memory to be developed.” When I start singing the blues in 2012, I’m going to remind myself of my word, “play”, and then I’ll whisper my thanks to a six month old baby girl and a little white kitten for reminding me how it’s done!
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt
When I saw this week’s theme on iheartfaces was, “Best Face Photo from Summer 2011”, I thought of this capture of my little niece right away. Olyvia insisted on keeping her binky, and wearing her warm and cozy Dora hat in the pool while she swam. She was head-to-toes pretty in pink on that hot summer afternoon, and we envied not only her fun fashion sense, but that innocent sense of freedom to be and act and dress any old way she wanted!
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~Pablo Picasso
Today is my son’s birthday. He’s a dad now, with two little ones of his own, and yes, I watch my baby hold his babies and I wonder how we got from there to here so quickly. Of course, I was warned. By my mother and grandmother and aging aunties; I was told to gather the tender moments from the childhoods of my two children and hold them close because they would fly by. And I tried, I really did. But there was housework to do and bills to pay, a marriage to maintain and health problems to overcome, and before I knew it I was sitting in a hospital waiting room looking forward to holding my new granddaughter in my empty arms. The greatest joy of being a grandparent is that you get one more chance to honor the precious days of childhood as you watch your grandchildren grow up, and as an added bonus, you do it armed with a good night’s sleep and a little more wisdom. I think of my mother on days like today, dancing with Andy at his wedding 6 years ago, her head on the shoulder of her first grandchild and I know exactly what she was thinking…how did we get from there to here so quickly?