I recently discovered a blog so stunning in its representation of humanity, so beautiful in its display of memories, and so poignant in its confrontation of the past, that I decided to feature it here. Its idea aligns so well with that of nostalgia and not waiting until tomorrow to appreciate today. The blog is called Dear Photograph, and it’s concept is to “take a picture of a picture from the past in the present.”
Dear Photograph, At the time it was not common for a man to walk behind a pram. I’m still proud of my father. ~Eva Willemier Westra
People contribute photos from all over the world and each contribution is sent with a caption that is a message to the photo’s subjects or a commentary about the time period in which it was taken. The creator of Dear Photograph, 21-year-old Taylor Jones from Ontario, came up with the concept while sifting through some old snap shots of his own. He spontaneously took a picture of one of the photos he found which was taken in the very spot where he sat. And the idea was born. The project is so remarkable because it inspires people to not only revisit old memories, but to physically revisit the location of those memories, forcing them to travel to the past to confront it or embrace it, whichever the case may be. It puts the past in the context of the present and acknowledges what is gone and what has taken its place.
Dear Photograph, It’s nice to know that we loved each other once upon a time. ~Sam
If you spend even a few minutes at this site, you will be struck with an overwhelming desire to call your parents or send a letter to your grandpa. It is painfully obvious why it’s popularity skyrocketed to 1.2 million visitors within 3 weeks of its creation. It is breathtaking. Hope you are as mesmerized by it as I am.
Dear Photograph, For one brief moment, this murky little duck pond became the most beautiful place on earth. ~Greg
I have just finished reading an extraordinary book entitled, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog.” I read it for a book club that I lead once a month, but I did not select it. It was chosen by a friend of mine and I must admit, I was sceptical at first. As a matter of fact, I was still sceptical a quarter of the way in, much like one is sceptical of an odd new acquaintance that they just might like to befriend, but they’re not quite sure. Yet the story and the characters so richly developed as I made further progress, that I could not help but be swept away by the poignance, beauty, and humanity that was exhibited in it’s pages. As I began the book, I felt that there was a pervasive cynicism that would be hard to overcome for someone as deliberately optimistic as myself. The two main characters were so isolated in their own minds, that they themselves had a hard time overcoming it. But it was this change from cynicism to hope that gave the book it’s depth. It was utterly beautiful to walk beside, and actually in the very minds of these two women as they learned to believe in humanity and the endless potential hidden in some people that we are fortunate enough to really see and call friends. The story is saturated in philosophy and psychology, which can make it a bit burdensome at times, but also intellectually stimulating and enriching. Because it ends with such a worthy example of what I am trying to accomplish here in my blog, finding beauty in the little thing and using those beautiful moments as building blocks of our happiness, I thought I would share the book with my readers along with my definite stamp of approval.
“In a bourgeois apartment building in Paris, we encounter Renée, an intelligent, philosophical, and cultured concierge who masks herself as the stereotypical uneducated “super” to avoid suspicion from the building’s pretentious inhabitants. Also living in the building is Paloma, the adolescent daughter of a parliamentarian, who has decided to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday because she cannot bear to live among the rich. Although they are passing strangers, it is through Renée’s observations and Paloma’s journal entries that The Elegance of the Hedgehog reveals the absurd lives of the wealthy. That is until a Japanese businessman moves into the building and brings the two characters together. A critical success in France, the novel may strike a different chord with some readers in the U.S. The plot thins at moments and is supplanted with philosophical discourse on culture, the ruling class, and the injustices done to the poor.” Review by Heather Paulson found on Amazon.
Do you ever get the feeling that some things you encounter while going about your normal, day-to-day business, are just slightly too unusual to be part of REAL life. And for a brief moment you feel certain, with perhaps only a shadow of a doubt, that these . . . apparitions . . . have leaped straight from the pages of a story and have entered your world for the sole purpose of adding a little bit of intrigue to your otherwise mundane day?
Allow me to give you an example. The other day, I was driving Aiden to his sitter’s house before heading to work. It was a hot, muggy, 80 degree morning with very little breeze. We had gone only two blocks from our house when I see a woman on a bicycle – something that shouldn’t give me any cause for a second thought. But I knew, upon seeing this woman was that she was not an ordinary part of my day. My very first thought when I saw her was that she was a witch in disguise. Now, this is not something I purposefully conjured up, with my overly vivid imagination. It was an immediate intuition. There was nothing startlingly strange about her, but there were some oddities. Her bicycle had a basket on the front. She wore a drab brown hoodie with the hood pulled low over her head – bear in mind the weather – and large vintage looking sunglasses. Her features were extremely defined and protruding and she DID have a large wort on her chin that I could see from my vantage point behind the wheel. But for me to pass a complete stranger and think, “Huh, a witch. I wonder what she’s doing in our world,” seems a bit neurotic. I don’t know whether it was the fact that I was considering her so carefully, or perhaps there was some strange truth to my conjecture about her, but her eyes followed me till she was looking over her shoulder on her bicycle and I had turned the corner. I have never seen her before or since in our neighborhood. Why I had such a strong reaction to her, I’ll never know. The logical side of my brain has convinced me, since that day, that what I saw was nothing more than a woman on a bicycle. The fantastical side of my brain, however, begs to disagree and has spent the better part of several days’ quiet moments playing out stories in my mind about the witch in disguise. I’ll leave you to imagine what the details of those stories may be, but I will tell you they have made the last few days far more fun :)
So here’s to noticing oddities, never taking them for granted, and giving the childlike side of your mind leeway to believe the unbelievable, even if just for a moment.
I have learned over the course of my increasingly fast-paced years, that happiness is not something that happens to us. It is not delivered to our doorstep with a nice red bow on top, just waiting to be opened and enjoyed. Of course life has its surprising moments that utterly grip us and take our breath away. But for the most part, I believe, happiness is something we make. Fulfillment is something we enjoy when we learn to stop taking the little things for granted. If we constantly brush off all of life’s tiny little beauties because they are ordinary, unimportant, or we’re simply too busy to bother, then we will surely see the color fade out of life and happiness will be hard to come by. Because, let’s face it, if we wait for the eventful, the enormous, the extraordinary to bring us joy, those moments will be few and far between. My two year old son has been an amazing teacher of this this lesson. To him, everything is new. Everything is amazing. The tiniest things that we as adults have come to see as commonplace, can make him quiver with excitement and curiosity. And, as his primary playmate, I too am learning to be excited with him. To share in his enthusiasm rather than squelch it. And, in some ways, he has become more of an influence on me than I have on him. It is my goal in writing this blog to share that influence with any who care to read. To find little lights of inspiration and beauty in every day life and highlight them for myself and others to take notice. To help create happiness. To appreciate now the things that we’ll remember later.