Last weekend, I asked my student staff to each bring something that means a lot to them. I never ask my students to do something that I wouldn’t do myself, so I brought a photo album. Well, a picture of albums, because of course, I forgot to bring the album to our meeting. But I had every intention of bringing one of my photo albums because I had been rummaging through a few days before, trying to find this picture from the ’98 World Series and I was reminded of how important pictures are to me.
While I unfortunately, couldn’t find the picture I was looking for, I instead, revisited my former self. I looked through photo albums that I started putting together since 1999, turning page after page, smiling, laughing, getting teary eyed, remembering, missing friends, shocked at what I use to look like, happy to see who I have become and even sad to see some of what I had lost. Whenever I am asked if I were to save anything from my burning home, what would I go back to save? Easy – other than my family – my photo albums. They represent where I have been, what I have accomplished, what I have lost, who have contributed in my life, who have helped me celebrate, who have held my hand when I needed one, who have stayed, who are still in my heart and forever will be, and who I let go of. I found pictures that I had forgotten about, saw people and thought, “Gosh, I wonder how they are doing now?” while simultaneously thinking how they were once so much part of my life. But I know that those truly meant to be in your life will always be there – and for those that are still are, those that actually call to say hi, to catch up and not text me on random occasions, I am very blessed – you are my loves.
I was reminded of how life can be so full and then change so quickly with a blink of an eye. I looked at some photos and saw at times, sadness in my eyes, even though I was smiling; in others, this gleam of wonder & fearlessness that knows no bounds, having no care in the world; and in others, just pure happiness and joy of being in that present moment. And while I know I have grown older in my years, with much more experience and hopefully more wisdom, I look at some of those pictures and wonder what happened to that girl who was so audacious. It happens to all of us – life happened. Disappointment, hurt, heartache, criticism, failed expectations, loss, or negative energy that build up walls to protect our heart and soul that keep us from trying, to take risks, to love unconditionally, because you or I don’t ever want to feel that way again.
But as I remember those times, I remember that as horrible and hurtful some of those experiences were, I am still here, still making things happen. I know that risk is the only way to live a life because you never know unless you try, you miss an opportunity youu never take, and you fail to uplift someone with your unconditionally love if you expect something in return. I try my best to live the life that I want to live and not how others expect me to live, but it is work to do so. Gone are the days when you can do things and get away with mistakes because you’re young and don’t know any better, because as you get older, you’re expected to know better, to learn from your mistakes. But I still make them any way and it is okay. I allow myself not to be perfect, even though I want to be.
And I still take tons of pictures and make no apologies for it. I am not be as good as putting them into photo albums as I use to be, but I think it’s time to start again. Some people don’t understand my fascination with pictures because they don’t believe everything needs to be documented. I disagree. There will be memories you will make and people that will come into your life who will make a footprint on your heart, and without warning, they will be gone. Maybe it’s just me, but when I look back at times I’ve shared with others, I like to think with a smile on face, “I remember when…” and just like that, it’s as if I’m there again, having the time of my life, being audacious. Remember those times when you start feeling fear welling up inside you. Be audacious. The worst that can happen, is you never tried and you will never know.