Seems like more than a few of us have had ourselves quite a month. Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed or worn out, I like to go back through my camera roll to see what sense it can give me of a time. Often, it helps me see that my feeling about a time isn’t the whole picture of it. Because I often take photos of what delights me, it can be an exercise in reminding myself of the small moments that don’t (but probably should) carry as much weight as some of the larger ones.
(I’ve been listening to Tana French audiobooks for a few months now, and there are some Irish words seeping into my thoughts.)
Look at me up there in that last full paragraph, sounding so wise and grounded. Cue the montage of lovely little life vignettes: flowers on the table, a stack of good books, snow sparkling under the rising sun. Oh, I meant every word as each came through my fingers (and I could easily create such a montage), but re-reading them as a whole I could feel my whole being rise up in resistance to such facile positivity–which is probably evidence of how easily inspirational Insta quotes can seep into a person if she’s not careful.
Attaining peace and contentment is not necessarily about finding delight, or about making sure you put every little thing on some balance scale, so that a multitude of small good things somehow mitigate or outweigh a fewer number of heavier bad things.
As I chose these images (no more than one for any day) and wrote my captions, I couldn’t help thinking of those optical illusions where what you see is presumed to be some kind of test of your mindset:
Was my month full of absence, disease, displacement, disruption, broken systems, and uncertainty? Or was it full of family, community, safety nets, solutions, possibility, and love?
What’s helped me get through this challenging month (season, year) is rejecting singular narratives–which means resisting not just one-sided, all-or-nothing ideas about our lives as a whole, but also about any discrete parts of our lives. The glass of any experience is neither half-full nor half-empty; it is always both empty and full. In every single image from my month are aspects of abundance and deprivation, sorrow and joy, hope and fear. All of those, all together, in every one.
The longer I live, the more it seems to me that the best way to fully feel the good things is to fully acknowledge the hard within them. To see and own and maybe even embrace the mess that is always part of the beautiful in our lives.
12 thoughts on “Goodbye to you, February”
I enjoyed seeing your photos and reading your thoughts about them. You’ve had a hell of a February and you’ve come through with a good attitude. I love your line: “The glass of any experience is neither half-full nor half-empty; it is always both empty and full.” The wisdom of the world in that sentence. I’m going to take it to heart as I march into March. Ever onward we go, eh?
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Always ever onward. As my grandma used to say about getting older: Beats the alternative.
I can relate. On this last day of February, I was thinking I hadn’t done much this month. So, I decided to review my camera roll for the month. It shows I did have some wondrous moments (I saw the local deer family in the hills, and a few magnificent sunsets). And, I also had some stretch moments (advocating for myself in the medical system, and processing a tender-feeling event about my birth family). The month was more full than I thought, but it wasn’t anything ‘world changing’, either. I’m doing my best to live in the ‘and’. Grief and gratitude. Good energy and exhaustion. Healing and healthy.
That’s a perfect description of the last 28 days for me: “more full than I thought, but it wasn’t anything ‘world changing,’ either.” I’m at my best when I can live in the “and.” Takes work to keep my squirrelly self there, though.
Rita, I love this post. It made me grab my iPhone and check out my own camera roll, which is a lot less interesting, btw. I love its raw honesty (a colonoscopy!) and the sidelong looks at your whole catastrophe of life — work, home, pets, offspring….and I love the refusal of a one-sided narrative, which always seems to imply not one, but two, black and white, up and down, right and wrong, a simple dichotomy, when in fact life is complex. (I wanted to write hideously complex.)
I really do go back through my photos whenever I start to feel like some period of time was all bad, and it’s an exercise I recommend highly. I always see things I hadn’t in the individual moments.
Aside from that, I’m not sure whether to be appalled by or delighted with the phrase “your whole catastrophe of life.” I love the language of that. I think, if I were to try to capture that past month, I’d have to insert the word “absurd” somewhere close to “catastrophe.” (And there are sure times when the complexity feels hideous to me. Often when I can’t untangle all the threads of any particular thing.)
I’m so glad that your son arrived safely back to you, Rita!
“The longer I live, the more it seems to me that the best way to fully feel the good things is to fully acknowledge the hard within them.” — this is so true!!
Thank you, TD. It’s pretty wonderful to be able to see him again.
I love when you share your pictures, and I loved the music too. What a month you had. Not to be negative, but how were your migraines? I can’t imagine that weather helped them.
Goodbye to YOUUUUU. That song is what I would sing on karaoke night if I had a voice. I love that song SO MUCH. It is so 80s and summer and just good.
Love you, friend.
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Those cookies are crack–which is why I didn’t buy them. 🙂 Probably a contributor to my migraines being not that bad. Which means that each episode was short and mostly controlled by meds. But, yeah–had headache at least once a week. Had it after both Covid shots, but I expected that.
I hadn’t thought of that song in years, but as I was thinking about a title for this post it just popped into my head. The video is so funny and sweet and makes me feel so dang old. I love the brief shot where she hikes her skirt up her thigh a bit. It’s so tame compared to everything now. And that sweater that reveals nothing up top. I’m glad I got to grow up in a less sexualized time.
Love you, too. 🙂 Looking forward to diving into your latest batch of tater tots, but need to get through a loooong work day first. Gonna save it as a treat to reward myself for behaving appropriately.
Your photo snippets make me happy. Especially the one of your son’s belongings. I think that one might be my favorite.
Pretty sure that’s my favorite, too. 🙂