Two things of note occurred today.
1) A gaggle of 8th grade girls* stopped in their tracks, stared me square in the eye, and then checked out my entire outfit. I’ve never felt more simultaneously cool, self-conscious (I did button my shirt, right?!), and 14 years old.
*I work at a middle school. That should make this less weird.
2) My friend Harish passed along this incredible video:
If you have the time, take a second (well, many seconds) to watch it.
In any case, aside from distracting me from an ever-so-thrilling bout of scanning, this video struck a chord with me. The basic gist of it is this: a 30 year old photographer took one picture each day for a year, and compiled it into a 1-second-per-photo video. Many people have attempted this, but his take on it was hauntingly profound. In large part, he shares a fear I’ve long suffered from — the fear of forgetting. In an attempt to counteract this, he photographed the banalities of day to day life, and created the narrative of a life that increasingly was becoming less linear. For those of us who’ve grown into ourselves amidst social media, the lack of a reflective understanding of our lives is deeply relatable.
Having gone through years of gradually losing someone, I’ve always longed for a narrative to flatten the complexities and forge some sense to it all. But more urgently, I longed to never forget. And in those moments of heightened reality, photographing the banal came easily. Watching a Giants game together, going to the grocery store, sitting in our favorite coffee shop. My mom and I photographed those moments endlessly because the narrative already existed — this was time dwindling, turning inward, i love you’s, goodbyes, and what’s for dinners.
It’s the moments now, when time has suddenly regained its “how is it already may” pacing, that I find difficult to capture. Perhaps because the plight of the twenty-something is the plight of the ever-waiting. We say things like “I’m just figuring out what I’m going to do with my life”, not realizing that this IS our life. In some ways, I feel like I’m aging backwards — afters years when self defense meant living singularly in the present, I’m finding myself continually living in the seemingly more glamorous future. And you can’t really photograph a future.
In any case, living in the present — trite as it may seem — is at the heart of the daily photo project. And as my life has slowly slid back to normalcy, its a philosophy I’ve found harder to stick to.
So, ironically, it’s a favorite quote of my dad’s that I constantly turn to in moments like these, and one I think many people my age should keep in mind: “Do any human beings realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”. It comes in the final act of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”, a painfully boring play we’re submitted to in 8th grade. But the point, and my dad’s favorite part, is that it’s boring for a reason. It’s boring because it’s life. And though boredom is largely associated with the DMV and 11 hour flights, it’s something we need to practice, celebrate, and document.