Taking photos eases pain, focuses on joy

-A A +A


By The Staff



Picture me in a huge white bathtub plopped right under an enormous window.

On sunny Sunday afternoons, I fill that bad dog with bubbles, open the window, and lean back until I can see the hot air balloons cresting Black Mountain. I tend to drink frosty lemonade and wear sunglasses during this activity. Believe me, it is as decadent as it sounds.

And that’s why I want a picture of me loving it—because I’m losing it. We are PCSing in just a few weeks and moving to a house with a much less fabulous bathtub.

Even though there is a lot to love about the new house, I know I’m going to long for this one.

I’m not being dramatic or maudlin. I’m actually being pretty practical. I’ve moved with my Sailor 15 times. I can accurately predict that I’ll get to Virginia and miss my herb garden in winter. I’ll miss my son’s understanding teachers and the 18 baristas at Starbucks I know by name. I’ll miss walking the beach at Torrey Pines and the way the California sun falls across my bed every single day.

I’m not looking forward to it, but I am doing it. I just wish there was a way to do it better.

That’s why I was so intrigued this week when I caught a snippet of an article about SEEKING change in your life. The author suggested that one good way to initiate change is to take 50 pictures in a week. The author swore that this would increase your happiness by making you look at familiar things with a fresh and discerning eye.

I read that and thought that when a change was forced upon you, this was a pretty good activity, too. Whether it is a move like mine or one of these newer, “shorter” 12-month deployments, mindfully taking pictures of the things you are losing is a good idea.

Now I’m not envisioning a catalogue of which stores line your local strip mall or a pathetic collection of big-eyed children on velvet. I’m not thinking of inflicting guilt by digital photo. Instead, I’m using this project to take pictures of all the things that have made our lives here so good.

My photos include some pretty weird stuff. My pantry with exactly the right spot to put batteries and silver candlesticks. My 14-year-old walking down the block with his friends and me NOT driving them. The rose bush on the corner that grows red roses so huge you could wear them as hats.

It’s an activity that makes me happier because it makes me notice all that I have. It is an activity that makes me happier because it somehow makes me think that I am keeping these things just by capturing them on a camera.

The more pictures I take, the more I think I should have done this before my husband’s deployments. I had pictures of him smiling and dressed up and ready to go out. I didn’t know I could have taken pictures of him mowing the lawn or coming home from work at the end of the day. I should have captured the way that tin of tobacco makes a circular sag in his jeans. The way the light falls on him as he reads a bedtime story. The slump of his shoulders while he contemplates burgers on the grill.

Pictures have a way of making us step back and see what we have.

They show us what we lose. And somehow they have the magical ability to assure us that it will be okay. Really, it will be okay to lose things. It will be okay to leave things behind. A stack of photos says that all was well and all is well and all will be well again. n