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.