09 August 2013

proof of life

"reducing art to proof". i was on the treadmill or elliptical or the stairmaster listening to a book when i heard those four words. it struck such a chord that i jotted it down. 

the author, david sedaris, was regaling me {and anyone else who reads his latest collection of essays let's explore diabetes with owls}about his excursions, writing about life rather than living it. he conceded that he is better at the former than the latter. his honesty chaffed me. made me sad for him and then ultimately shined a light on me and my penchant for not so much writing about life, but photographing it.

and i thought, have i reduced art to proof? am i too busy photographing the happenings that i am not living them? 

i remember once a cousin of mine who was chided by her husband for never taking video of their bustling, growing family. this wise cousin closed her eyes and said dreamily, "i am living it once-enjoying it the first go 'round rather than trying to capture it to relive later." i will never forget her words. almost 20 years later, it still sticks in my craw as i hungrily and greedily take more photos of my life and loves than should be allowed. 

and i wonder to myself, "girl friday. are you there?" am i so concerned with forgetting the nuances of my boys that i feel compelled to document their hands, their mannerisms, their habits as mundane and pedestrian as they are. eating a bowl of cereal. writing a note. looking out the window.

for anyone who sees my photographic endeavors knows that i lean more to the unplanned, unposed snaps that embody the person more than a "give us a smile" variety. i want to capture their essence, but in so doing am i spending more time capturing than living in it?

this is not a rhetorical pondering. i am trying to get to the bottom of this. 

yesterday our basement flooded. we had inches of standing water. the only thing i could think about was all the photographs down there. so with the help of the 12 year old, whose school was canceled, we heaved up boxes and boxes of filmed reminders of happy faces and inconsequential moments that are documented with such care and love that if ever i was going to claim an earthly treasure, it would be the papers found in those bins. years and years of archived evidence of living a life. proof that i lived and noticed and loved.

perhaps i have reduced art to proof. photographing the museum masterpiece rather than just sitting before it, engulfed with its beauty. but if i don't photograph it, where is the proof that i was ever there? i guess in a way that is why i write and snap shots. so someday, if they ever feel so inclined, my boys will read and see-and know on which side i fell. 

yours in the wondering, 
xo gf

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