Ever since I began slow blogging two years ago, I’ve noticed a strange trend in my own life; an unexpected shift that seems counter-intuitive to how I’m wired to operate – how our culture is wired to operate. It’s this:
The better the moment, the less pull I feel to document it.
It’s as if the moments have been made sacred the only way they can be: pressed between the pages of time and presence and memory. And when I need them, they’ll be conjured how they were intended – bleary and faded – and I’ll remember these days in the most imperfect margins I can recall: rusty crockpot dinners, towers of memoirs on my nightstand, piled laundry on dining room tables and kitchen counters and living room sofas, lined up like soldiers battling the stacked blocks and granola crumbs.
I’ll always be someone that vacillates deeply between too much and too little. I’m an all or nothing, a yes or no, a now or never. And I know enough to know that this achingly beautiful life does not call for a black and white lens, so I’m hesitant to douse myself in ink here. There is gray to be found. I know this to be true.
Yet. Here’s a story:
I have this memory of my wedding day that I can only recall when I think really deeply, squinting my eyes and willing it to come forward. It was a rare and monumental moment – a simple conversation with a dear friend that single-handedly prepared my heart for the struggles I’d face as a newlywed in Los Angeles, wading through a modern day quarter life crisis with a ring on my finger. It was a moment that should hold great purpose and weight in my heart and head today, but it’s often forgotten. I don’t have a picture of it. It wasn’t photo-worthy. There were no sparklers or champagne flutes or tiled dance floors. No, the conversation took place in the nursery of my parent’s church – a passing moment in a dimly lit room – hardly worthy of acknowledgement. And as a result, it’s one that, if you look in the cardboard boxes of photos and remnants and letterpressed invitations, doesn’t even exist.
I don’t know what that means. Is it all the more important to document our everyday, for fear that something big happens and we’ll lose it amidst the landslide of time? Or, what happens if we stop the documentation altogether, keeping our everyday sacred and untainted by our highlights and filters? Without the error of our judgment – the picked-through, picked-over curation of our daily lives – will we remember precisely what we’re intended to remember?
And what happens if we document the wrong thing? What if the dinner parties and new shoes and toddler cameos take precedence over the hard, ugly truths that aren’t learned at golden hour? And how are we to know which ugly truths to document? What will we forget that we need to remember?
We all know that sometimes, documentation gets in the way. The filters and edits and grids overshadow the quiet moments where we’re still and small and silent. Where we look around at the breakfast table – at the berry-stained fingers and cold mugs of coffee and half-buttered toast – and know without a doubt that this is a moment that was gifted to us, one that we might remember forever and ever or one that might float away completely.
So which are we placing a greater weight on? Which memories are sacred, the kind worthy of tethering close to our hearts? And which are the other kind of sacred, the kind meant to release into the sun?