Sued51's Blog











{September 10, 2014}   Picture Puzzle: Piecing Together My Blessings

Forgive me my absence. Being “time-challenged” I tend to be late for events, but working two jobs tends to make time fly in a broader way…fall already???

I had a weekend off from job number 2 and decided to take a couple days off from job number 1 and have a party! (Not really, just relax a bit.)

So I came home Friday night at the start of my four days of bliss to…a water leak in my apartment — sopping wet ceiling tiles on the floor of my closet. REALLY???

My landlady came over with her maintenance guy (another tenant) and I began removing things from my one and only packed closet to the living room: the only place I had any space. As I discovered wet journals and photo albums, I felt my stomach turn over…why does it have to be the things that I can’t replace?

We determined that there was some kind of invisible water buildup that had expended itself; there didn’t seem to be anything still leaking. Also, thank goodness it was NOT toilet water from the upstairs apartment. (This had happened before to tenants before me!) So…that was BLESSING NUMBER 1.

As I went through the wet journals, I discovered that many of those that were soaked were unused or partially used ones; only two of the wet books were actually filled with my life’s story. Most of the dripping papers were typed and printed poems, not penned material. Also, the small stack of literary publications that contained my published poetry were completely dry and undamaged…BLESSING NUMBER 2.

I was a bit teary about the photos, so my landlady offered to stay and help me get the photos out of the plastic-pocketed albums so they could dry out and be salvaged at least for scanning. It turned out only 4 albums were soaked; the rest were dry…BLESSING NUMBER 3.

We talked about people who lose everything in hurricanes and fires as we sat on the floor and cut open and discarded the photo album plastic pages. Surrounded by pictures, we talked about life in general, what we had been through, and what we were grateful about. My landlady joked as she held up some of the photos and asked me about them. “Everybody has these same photos,” she said, “Backyard barbecues, weddings, and scenery.”

At 11:00 pm, with barely a path to walk in the living roon, we finished the salvation project.

photos on floor

Photos, Photos Everywhere

Photos

A path through the photos

The next morning as I gathered up the curled photos and tried to group them by subject or timeframe to put them in shoeboxes, I found myself thinking about what I learned from the experience. I found that some pictures were generic…without the context of the other pictures from each book, where was this tree? This seashore? This sunset? Did I really need these? As part of an overall impression of a place or a trip or a moment in time, they were important, but as pictures on their own, what did they tell me?

There’s always a positive takeaway from moments like these, if you look for it. It’s just another step on the downsizing journey to learning what is important. It’s just…life.

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i encountered something very similar a few years ago and wrote about it. I, too, spent a few days tossing hundreds of photos, that after a while were meaningless, and kept the few that meant so much, xo LMA

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sued51 says:

LMA, Sorry you had to go through it too. Somehow I think it is a necessary life lesson…

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rommel says:

One of the best posts ever! An embrace for life and having a positivie attitude despite a (air-quote) “disaster”. I’m impressed with the normalcy or relatability, and simplicity in delivery of the post.
I’ve been meaning to make physical copies of my photos. But I get so overwhelmed by the amount and which ones to choose to print.

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sued51 says:

Thank you Rommel…that is a wonderful compliment…I think writing something in an accessible way is the highest purpose of writing. You DO have some many wonderful photos. 🙂 At this point I would have to say…only print the pictures you really want to look at over and over…digital is the way to go!

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Cindi says:

Oh wow, as you observe, what could have been such a disaster turned into such an awareness of blessings. Thank you for the thoughtful moments I know it will give me.

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Good for you for finding the pony in the pile of poo Sue! I was thinking only yesterday that I really need to do a serious purge of the dead weight in my closet, and you have spurred me on. I also realized recently that I need to focus more on the people I love in addition to the places I’ve been in my photography. Life; a never-ending series of lessons, isn’t it?!

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sued51 says:

It’s so true, Tina…new lessons every day. I have WAY too many pictures that mean too little. As far as yours are concerned…they are just too beautiful to dispose of! However, I’m becoming a true convert to digital photography. I almost never print anything anymore.

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oh, sorry to hear about your water invasion – but am glad you were able to see the silver lining in it all. purging can be so liberating. i needed to clear the floor in my bedroom the other day because the carpet was going to be cleaned, and as i stacked boxes into my shower and other corners which were not impacted by the carpet cleaning, i found it amazing how much larger my room had become – and how little attached i was to some of those old books that i haven’t looked at in years, old college and university notes, former lesson plans from when i was teaching ESL at least 100 years ago, lol.
 
i am inspired to really go through the stuff because less is sometimes more!

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sued51 says:

Thanks for your comment. Funny how these sorts of disruptions cause us to get some things done that have been put off for a while…

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Lovely post. And boy, do you have a nice landlady. I never had a landlord remotely as nice as that. You’re right… we all have these photos, and they could almost be anywhere and anything. How many times have i looked at old forgotten photos and, as you suggest, you look in the photos and try to find out why it was taken, what it means… it’s truly like a mystery. Anyway, glad you didn’t suffer too much damage.

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sued51 says:

Michael, I feel very fortunate to have my landlady…her staying with me went a long way towards keeping me from getting more upset with the situation. She helped me laugh at a tough time…priceless…

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