I have a friend whose habit of photographing everything with his cellphone drives me crazy! At a restaurant he will photograph the dishes of food that he orders when they arrive on the table. Even if superficially introduced to someone he will photograph them. Flowers, trash baskets, the contents of the garbage can… all of it is fair game for photographing! After dressing each day he stands before his full-length mirror and takes a photo of what he is wearing. Recently I could find neither rhyme nor reason for his strange obsession until one day I put politeness aside and said, “What’s up with all the photos?” He replied, “Alzheimer’s runs in my family and I am terrified that once it sets in I won’t remember my life! I photograph it all in order to have something to look at later in the hope that it might trigger some memories for me of the life that I have lived. I want it as proof that I had a life! If I can’t remember it, have I really lived it?”
How many of us do the same thing but in other ways? We collect trophies, make collections, put together books of recipes that we don’t want to forget. There is a tension in living between the actual living of life and the remembering of it. Unfortunately, no matter how many photos or objects that we might have gathered throughout our life none of it matters. What matters is the living of life which many of us fail to do even though we get through our days. Going to work, coming home, going to bed is not living life! Neither is having enough money to do whatever we want, when we want or if we want! What constitutes living is being present TO and IN the present moment, which many of us are not so good at, consumed as we are by our worries, our regrets and our fears.
Yes, we need to have dreams and hopes for the future… a sort of carrot dangling before our heart! And yes, there are regrets about the past that pull us backward! Nonetheless the fact is that the present moment is the only one guaranteed to us. If we do not live in it as fully as possible then it doesn’t matter how many photographs, trophies or objects we have gathered… we do not possess the living of our life!