There are moments in your life that change you. Alter the way you see things, the way you do things. There are events that cause you to reevaluate the things that are important. There are circumstances that make you into something completely different.
Sometimes the changes are permanent and sometimes they’re not.
When my Dad got really sick and we knew he had very little time to live, life changed. (You can read more about that journey here)
It changed because we knew the days, hours and nearer to the end, possible moments that we would have with him were limited. Extremely limited. And when minutes spent with a loved one start echoing in your ear like a clock ticking away the seconds, well, priorities shift.
My life became necessities and love. The necessities were work and my husband and my children and the love became evening after evening in the hospital. The love became meals eaten together as a family in the palliative care wing. The love became a room for my children with their name on the door so they could watch cartoons and laugh with their cousins and escape the sterilized smell and somber moods for just a while. The love became holding straws up to his lips so he could drink and sitting at his bedside reading scripture over him while nobody else was in the room. The love became speaking words I wasn’t sure he could hear and holding his hand whether he knew I was or not.
What became completely unnecessary was creativity. In fact, when hit with survival mode there wasn’t even any creativity to draw upon. My tank had run dry and there was no station to fill ‘er up at.
5 years ago I hung up the strap of my camera. I tucked flashes and lenses into my impossibly heavy vintage case. I chucked canisters of film into a pouch and I closed the lid and snapped the lock shut. I wrote a letter to clients, past and present, announcing my departure from this art I loved so much and I handed a list of their addresses over to a dear friend who I knew would care for them and their pregnancies and days old babies and memories just as much as I would.
And that was that.
I was changed.
Photographer was no longer an adjective I used to describe myself. If someone called me one I felt like a fraud and I would try and explain it away. Because photographers actually pick up cameras and find exhilaration in the sound of the shutter snapping open and closed. Photographers see the world in a distinct way. Always snapping in their mind. Altering reality. Seeing in black and white or oversaturated tones and picking tiny little moments out of the world and storing them as though on glossy 4×6 sheets.
I was none of that. I didn’t feel any of it. It was a part of who I was but not a part of who I am.
Don’t get me wrong, it was just fine with me. It felt like something off my plate when life became about survival and I was more than happy to tuck it away and forget about it.
For the past five years I truly felt it was a part of my past. A chapter in the novel that had ended. Pages had been turned and new things had come and there you have it.
My lovely husband had tried to nudge me back to it several times over these years but I always had an excuse as to why not.
Well, a few weekends ago I pulled that dusty old leather case from the back of the closet. I wiped off the top and I clicked the latch and I opened it up. In just a second it all came rushing back, so much the same but slightly different.
Because I’m different. And events and time change you and it changed me.
But what I know is that some cases aren’t meant to be closed forever. Some things are meant to have the back of the closet as their permanent home. Some are, mind you. But some aren’t. I don’t think we really know until God reveals it to us.
God’s people, His chosen people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years on a journey that could have taken 11 days, apart from their disobedience. They were scared, though He told them not to be. They said no even though He said yes. They took the very human route of collaborating stories with others, and scoping out the scene and then made humanly smart decisions based on what they saw instead of what they heard from Him.
40 years and no promised land later, Moses died. God did show Him with his eyes though, what could have been. Moses saw the land, it was right there before him. I wonder what he felt in his heart just then. Seeing what could have been. Knowing the life he could have had. Gazing on that land in all it’s splendour knowing he would never taste of its beauty. All because he was scared.
I don’t want that to be my life. I don’t want to look back in my final days and see what could have been if only I’d listened. I don’t want to stay someplace I’m not meant to be for my entire life because I don’t believe I can do it. I don’t want to play it safe when it seems too scary. If I’m told to go then I want to go.
I don’t know what this means at all just now. Not one little bit.
But I do know that I pulled that baby out and I heard the sound of the mirrors snap and I listened to the whir as the film finished and rolled itself back up into its shell. I explained to my kids what film is! And then I dropped the roll off and I had to wait a day before I got to see any of my photos and it was so exciting. I had to wait to see what I shot, people! No instant gratification. No immediate post garnering 74 likes. Waiting.
When I picked up my photos the following day and I thumbed through the stack and when I saw the colours and the grain something came back. Something that I thought was a thing of the past rushed into me and I looked again and again and again.
I want to follow where He leads and stop the rabbit trails that aren’t mine to have. He has given me a love for words. He has given me a love of art. He has opened my eyes to see beauty in the mundane and joy in the simplicity of texture and pattern.
Of course this means nothing other than I might just be that camera girl again. Get ready friends. It’s coming for you.