Life as a Snapshot

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Today I’m answering the question posed by TheMindfulist, who got the question from twasians: If you captured your life in snapshots, what would it look like? As usual, I didn’t just stop with answering the question.

Immediately upon reading this I went into my garage and pulled out a few collages that have been sitting dusty in a box for the last 16 years. I keep meaning to put them up, but the frames aren’t really my style, and the photos are from a life I lived so long ago that it just doesn’t make sense to put them up anywhere. And even with all the uncluttering I’ve done in the last year, I haven’t find it in me to get rid of these bulky dust collectors.

This collage, these images, are from a life I hardly remember. Baby photos of playing with dogs, sucking my thumb, smiling and laughing in most of them. It makes me think of a simpler time when all my cares in the world rested on having a laugh, playing in the yard, or what was next to eat. Commonly referred to as “The Good Ol’ Days.”

But those years passed and the next years came, whether I liked them or not.

The collages in the garage don’t capture every piece of my childhood, just enough to make me contemplate my existence today. My life back then was so different, and all that I went through made me who I am today. I wouldn’t live it again if you paid me to, but I’m grateful for all the lessons I have to look back on and learn from.

Take my brother’s birth when I was fourteen. Up until then I thought I wanted kids as soon as I was old enough to get out of the house and live on my own. I thought I could raise kids much better than my mom could, based on how she’d raise me until then. We think we know so much more than we do when we’re fourteen, don’t we?

This shot here to the left describes perfectly the level of shock I had in learning just how much work it is to have a child. Not only to have a baby, but to care for him, to nurture him, to teach him, to raise him.

After my brother was born, I gained a new level of respect for how my mom had raised me. Don’t get me wrong, I was still an angry teenager (with plenty of right to be), but the learning had begun to sink in after sharing the load in taking care of my brother. I wish I’d thanked her before she died.

Which brings me to the next collage. It’s of the era before my brother, just before my teens, just the beginning of much of my angst. The images here are basically of good times. Except for the ones that are missing. Those were the ones with my mom’s boyfriend in them. The ones my grandmother didn’t think I could bear to look at. The ones she removed and burned before giving me the entire set of collages in my mother’s house after she died.

My grandmother thought she was doing something nice, but really she had done something selfish. She’d deprived me of the chance to make my own decision (which probably would’ve been the same at that time). She took what she would have wanted done for her, and did it for me.

I look at it now and I understand. She was in pain. We do selfish things when we’re in pain. And it seems like such a small thing to take a picture out of a frame, but I felt betrayed. Because I was in pain. Because we feel every emotion deeper when we’re in pain. Until we’re not.

I look at these images and I see a life that was lived so long ago. A life I let go of so long ago. While my original intent this morning was to go out into the garage and pull a couple of photos from those collages and make a new collage to share with you, I see now that’s not at all what I want.

My life back then got me here. Here. The present day. And while I’m grateful for this wonderful, tumultuous, beautiful past I have, there’s no time like the present to be grateful for. And so I am.

The thing is, your life can’t be fully captured in snapshots. You have to go out there and live it. Take what you like and learn from the rest.

If you captured it in snapshots, what would your life look like?

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