Monday, December 09, 2013
Time slipping away....that's what this weekend felt like.
An ice storm in the South paved the way to my next project...going through my Dad's slides and photo collection. His collection is massive....but I thought while I was experiencing some down time this month....it was the perfect time to start. Then the ice storm arrived and socked us in (fortunately with power) so it was like Mother Nature tapped me on the shoulder saying..."It's time."
I made up a few rules for going through Dad's pictures:
1) It was okay to toss away pictures. Pictures that were duplicated, fuzzy, had heads chopped off or contained people and events I did not know could be thrown away.
2) Not every picture of a life event was worth saving. If there were 50 slides of a birthday party, save the best pictures and let the others go.
3) If slides could be moved forward to someone who might cherish them, save them and send them.
The rules seemed logical and doable. And they are.... I've gone through at least 500-600 slides this weekend....and the rules work. I'm comfortable with what I'm saving.
But what's hard is the actual tossing. Even though some pictures are doomed....for example a retirement party my parents attended where place and people are totally foreign to me.....it was still very hard to actually put those slides in the recycling bin. The toss pile got bigger and bigger but it was harder and harder to physically move the slides from the table where I sorted them to the bin.
Each time I put a slide in the discard pile, I kept thinking of my dad who organized and enjoyed these pics...but mostly I couldn't shake the feeling that I was tossing away time.
Some slides I looked at were 50 years old....from the 60's.....there were parties and events and fuzzy holiday pictures....representing a second of life years ago.....and now the very last trace of that moment and of that person in that moment....was headed to some gigantic shredder.
I felt like I was destroying the past and some of the nameless people captured in the slide. It reminded me of a book I read, "The Brief History of the Dead," where people thrived in an alternative realm, a "heaven", until they were no longer remembered on earth.
Was I throwing away the last memory of someone who existed years ago and was gone now?
Eventually, I moved the slides.....from the table to the recycling bin.....but I felt uncomfortable....hesitant....wondering if I was somehow erasing something from the universe...something that was important and will never exist again.
And it will never exist again....the anonymous retirement party in 1967 in an unknown restaurant with at least a 60 unknown people....does not exist...all have passed away....even the building may be gone.
Only the slide holds the moment from the past embedded in a strip of tough cardboard.
How strange....how very very strange...to be a Time Lord...to decide what stays in our family memory and what will never ever be seen again.
Monday, November 25, 2013
It seems like it's been gray and raining for three weeks. I'm sure that's not right....I vaguely remember cool sunshine...pretty leaves...but the last few days seems to have cemented my image of gray and rain lasting forever. Three weeks ago, I had some orthopedic surgery, something that I needed but put off because of my bat mitzvah. I've been hobbling around but not in much discomfort. The surgeon told me key to a good recovery was to pace myself and rest. Rest. I almost wanted to ask him how he defined rest...like sitting? like take to your bed? like do nothing?
And so while I'm healing ....I've struggled to rest.
I realized I didn't quite know how to rest. I'm always a vortex of activity....always have long to-do lists....always waking up early and going to bed late. But trying to accomplish to-do lists after surgery and hopping around, made me real tired...and so I made a to-do list for resting. My early list went something like this.....have breakfast, tidy up a bit in the kitchen.....then sit and read for at least an hour..small activity then relax on the couch.....small activity then snuggle under the covers. Only by pretending resting was an activity was I able to rest.
After a week at working on resting, it's easier. I've read three books .....gone through one large shopping bag of old family photos....and went through a stack of papers and organized them for genealogy research. Not taxing....and certainly relaxing.....and an activity which can be done leisurely while in a chair, on a couch or even in a bed. I've asked the men folks in the house to pick up the slack....finish the dishes, get the laundry moved up to the right rooms....and some things I've just had to shrug...and say oh well...it can wait for a couple of weeks.
I've really enjoyed reading again, I've had two different requests from friends to rejoin the book clubs I used to belong to.....but after years of working in a book store....I have hundreds of titles in my bookshelves that I've been waiting to read. So I'm hesitant to be told what to read....and am enjoying the process of trying to find a book in my own collection that fits my mood or the day. I realized now why people don't read as much anymore....it's not that reading isn't enjoyable....but when you are a center of activity it is difficult to sit down quietly for a hour to read....it's difficult to find that hour. The to-do lists and projects always trump the quiet time necessary for reading.
I've also discovered music again....purposeful music. I often have music playing in the background ...but it's more of a drum beat to help my activities go faster. Now I coordinate the music to my rest periods. When I'm looking at old photos....I often stream a favorite Indie radio station from Minneapolis which seems to have the right balance of cool music. Classic musical helps sorting and casual reading......and NPR fills a nice gap when you're under the covers but don't want to sleep.
Sometimes I wonder if everyone has a hard time resting....or is it just me? Does everyone rush around everyday....with long to-do lists and projects? Am I the only one on weekends....redoing the upholstery on my dining room chairs, gardening, cleaning out the attic.....or do some people on their off days actually rest? Do they put on carefully selected music and muse? or read? or doing something small and enjoyable that doesn't take much effort?
I'm sure the doctor would be pleased at my resting and maybe Mother Nature decided to help by making the days cold and gray and rainy so I'm not tempted to wander outdoors and do something active. But I must say...sipping tea and thinking and letting life slide by a bit is quite profound for an activity-addicted person. I wonder as I come off "resting" if I can keep or choose to keep any of the ways I'm now resting. Resting.....it still a bit of a surreal proposition.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Looking through my dad's photo album, I came across this picture of a guy at a wedding my parent's were attending. Don't know who he is but whoa....that is one stylin' leisure suit from the 70's?? I like the knit cuff sleeves and the short jacket with expandable waist....so comfy. Reminded me of the Two Wild and Crazy Guys from SNL....can't you just hear this guy say, " Hello American girl with large breasts. Would you like to see my American-sized apartment?"