When you hear "this is the story of your life" what images come to mind? What is disctinctive about the story you're living? There is a theory that our lives are stories, and we get to tell the one we want. Sure, these stories risk redundancy when our daily rhythms mandate repetition. Laundry must be laundered. Bills must be paid. Clients must be satisfied. Teeth must be brushed. And on it goes.
But what about the carved-out fringes between the routines? Of course the routine can't be eliminated from the story, but perhaps it's from these in between spaces where the freshness of our stories is made distinctive.
In spite of my own ruts, some days begin with a simple challenge: to make the day different than the day before. And the one before that. Today there's been some nice success to that morning challenge. During a reflective point earlier, looking for a couple of specific photos in my files, I regarded my story. With the music of David Gray providing my soundtrack for that space, I considered these elements:
Today: My Story In Pictures
- After waking up and feeding my friend's dog, I went back to sleep. Unheard of, glorious decadence. I justified it with reminders that it is, in fact, Saturday and I am allowed to indulge if I like. (Although I also know that had it been Tuesday, there are ways to justify a nap then, too!)
- When I awoke, I spoke on the phone with a friend who updated me about the hospital stay of her brother who is also my friend. Last spring while waiting under some trees one day when I took him to a doctor's appointment, I photographed some dogwood blossoms. Interesting find, in context of today's concern.
- I once bought an enormous bundle of copper wires, intending to do many artistic things with the copper. I did one thing, not too long later, then promptly lost the treasure entirely. An out-of-focus photo of that bundle seems all that remains. Unless it's still in storage where I last saw it. This image triggered a firm talk with myself, especially on the heels of having read - in a langourous after-brunch bath - a chapter in The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. This is a book I was thrilled to find by my friend's tub. I've never read it before, but have read a number of Rubin's blog posts over the last year or so. Back to the tough talk, though. A week or so before heading down here to Atlanta, the subject of my storage unit came up while I was hanging out with a friend. I said something about needing to get rid of much of what I've been storing. He said, "Do you know how many times I've heard you say that over the past three years?" His direct, sobering honesty came to mind again today. When I get back to Greensboro, it's time to return to this oft-postponed task. Seriously. (Okay. I said, "Yea right," too. Which is why I added an reminder to my calendar in early June. It's a step, right?)
- Before they left for Hungary, my friend and her son went outside and draped mesh over the blueberry bushes in the garden. "If you have enough sunny days, these will be ripe for you in a week or so!" she declared. What an incredibly thoughtful thing to do while trying to remember all the things one must remember before heading out of the country on a weeks-long, international family trip! Every time I see the bushes, I feel gratitude for that gesture. Photographing the bushes reminded me of other blueberries from a different chapter in my story.
- I have a really bad habit of telling people I like - during enthusiastic, well-meaning moments of affinity - that I would like to tell parts of their stories in my blog. Sometimes I do take the time to write these posts. More often than I wish were true, however, I get busy with other things and forget my promise. As I did with Susie months ago. Susan Mullally taught me 90% of everything I know about photography. After I went to see her show, What I Keep, which was based on her book by the same title and then on exhibit at the Guilford College Art Gallery, I was so moved that I told her I wanted to write about her work and my reactions to it in my blog. I still haven't written this piece. I have a lot of guilt about this not-yet-honored promise.
- For as long as I can remember, I've had a thing about old trucks. I know this all started with my Granddaddy and his trucks, when I was a tiny girl. A year or so ago, I started looking for a truck to buy. I came very close one rainy day. When someone else got to it first, I postponed the search and headed off for a 6 week trip to the west coast, instead. I have yet to recapture the enthusiasm for my search. I saw an awesome truck the other day and wondered about this idea again.
- The song "Nobody Walks in LA" was playing in a passing car yesterday while I carried purchases through a parking lot. I shot this photo of Eleanor on an LA sidewalk last September. I've known few people who walked more than this girl and her family. Sometimes the songs? They lie to us. Also? More nostalgia paired with wishes it were easier to get to distant people whose company you enjoy.
- After leaving LA, I headed to Seattle from where friends and I took a few days jaunt to Oregon. While in Portland, one of these friends and I made a new friend during an unplanned stop at the Bagdad Theater and Pub. I've been thinking of this friend for days. Which requires a different back story. See, while shooting photos of my friend's hydrangeas here in Atlanta, (seen here,) I kept thinking of those Portland ones. I've since learned that minerals and other elements in a region's soil has an impact on the colors of these flowers. These Portland hydrangeas were gorgeous... some of the prettiest I've ever seen. While thinking once more of that trip and the flowers I discovered while there, I decided to call my Portland friend today; it's been a while. Of course this also brought additional guilt, because it's also been a while since I've talked with my other friend, whose idea it was in the first place that we stop at the Bagdad. Soon...
- It's been a while since I've mentioned my nephew here. This boy is the reason I spend as much time in Greensboro as I do. He knows this. He told his dad one day while we talked on the phone, "Mimi comes home because she misses me so much." I haven't talked to him today, but hope springs eternal.
- Now I have returned from a walk, which is a regular part of this Atlanta story of mine. Bel must walk. And since I'm told it's great for me as well, I imagine myself to be reaping the benefits.
Today's story seems much more about reflection than action. Maybe that will lead to a different challenge tomorrow.
What about you? Is there anything about your story today that's different from yesterday? Perhaps making it different isn't that important. Maybe, instead, just the fact that it's yours is important! Tell me something about your own story?