The Power of Pictures

My recent post on the new Nike Air Max 360 was fresh on the mind of my friend Sonya when she took a recent trip to Rome. If you look closely at the background, or better yet, click on the picture, you’ll see a large billboard hawking Nike’s latest and greatest with the invitation, “Run on Air.” One might expect to see such a scene in Times Square, but et tu, Roma?

The intersection of the ancient with the modern can be found in the most unexpected places. When I saw this, I immediately pictured Pope Benedict XVI wearing a pair of the Air Max 360s beneath his vestments as he was issuing his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”). Now that would make one cool commercial. Nike, are you listening? Apparently not, because I have yet to receive a phone call regarding my first suggestion.

Last week I suffered a “major system failure” on my 6-year-old Dell desktop. I do most of my blogging from my laptop so no problems there, but the desktop did have a number of “critical files” including many pictures that I’ve taken over the past few years.

Now I know what some of you are thinking–did you backup your files? Let me answer that by asking you a question–did you floss your teeth last night? You get the picture, so to speak.

The good news is I was able to get the computer running enough that I could access the files. The bad news was that I couldn’t get the computer to recognize a flash drive or burn a CD. So off I went foraging through every drawer and beneath the cushions of every chair and couch in the house looking for any old-fashioned floppy disks that I could use to transfer the old files to the laptop.

I managed to scare up a few and then spent most of Saturday in the painstaking process of loading the disks, dumping the files on my laptop, clearing the floppies and then going back for more. I first focused on Word files but eventually turned my attention to the pictures. Many of the best ones had long since been printed and placed in albums, but there were still quite a few that hadn’t that I still wanted to keep.

But a funny thing happened on the way to aggravation. As I sorted through and gazed at the pictures of birthdays, soccer trips, family vacations, holidays and just average days filled with serendipities and small moments of pleasure, the irritation that I initially felt at the slowness of the task soon gave way to a feeling that could best be described as joy.

Why the sudden shift in emotions? As I sat and gazed at the montage of moments both great and small, I realized that, simply put, I had “been there.” You see, as I watch my sons turning into young men in the blink of an eye and heading increasingly through the front door away from my grasp and control, I find myself asking, “Was I there?”

Was I actually there when they were born, took their first steps and spoke their first words? Was I there when they hit their home runs and when they struck out? Was I there when they asked the Large Questions? Was I there when disappointment and heartache reached out and slapped them in the face? Was I there to help pick up the pieces, dust them off, and give them the little push foward as they faced the fears and insecurities of growing up in a sometimes upside down, inhospitable world?

You see sometimes in the middle of a busy life you can lose track of the answers to questions like that. But the pictures were proof positive that the answer was, “Yes, I was there.” I’m not usually visible in the pictures because I was standing behind the camera, but yes, praise be to God, I was there!

Because I was there, I suddenly realized that if my life ended today, that I would have no significant regrets. Now that’s a feeling of “life insurance” that no premium can buy. If it’s true that before you die that your life flashes before your eyes, then let it be these pictures–that would be one heckuva slide show.

So, I invite you today to pull out your own pictures and experience the bliss of a colorful and joyous parade of memories marching past your eyes. While you’re at it, fetch your camera and capture a few more moments that will be balm for your aging and aching soul in the years to come.

A piece of advice though–if you store your images on a computer, take the time to back them up on a flash drive. Oh, and while you’re at it, floss those pearly whites too.

  1. mike the eyeguy

    Thanks Derek. You just liked that part about the Pope wearing Nikes…;-)

  2. Derek Jenkins

    I was going to say the he didn’t need the Nikes, he was already walking on air, but…

    The part I actually like, tho, was about just being there. Very nice.

  3. mike the eyeguy

    At least you didn’t say, “walking on water…” 🙂

    Really, the best of all things would be to walk on air and “be there!”

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