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Inspiration by Fire

Never have we documented our lives so thoroughly. I have always adored family photos, but now I feel a gnawing incompleteness if I don’t catch the moment in at least one photo or one quick movie.

I don’t get so caught up in documenting that I fail to experience, no, I know better than to filter everything through a lens. But knowing that I’ve captured a glimpse of something that matters relieves me of the burden of remembering so hard.

I smarted at the line “Photos are for people who can’t remember.” in the movie Up In The Air. Spoken by George Clooney’s character, it felt like a personal assault. And from such beautiful lips, man, come on.

Even one image, representing one fraction of a second of a memory, arms and detonates a barrage of emotions for me. It’s not just the memory, not just the facts.

A photo brings back the way the air felt, the way the light fell, the smell of a toddler’s hair or the nape of a soft neck. Our minds can only hold so much on the surface. Sometimes we need help tapping into those deeper stores.

Photos anchor my life around me. Keep me from floating away.

So you can imagine how unstable the following photo makes me feel:

Let’s just say “incomplete.” You are looking at a photo project finished halfway, then demolished, then left hanging. Yes, literally.

Last August (as in, um, 2010), I decided to finally (finally!) decorate our home. Having lost all of our photos in Hurricane Katrina (our home was on the beach and washed clean to a bare slab), I found myself hesitating to claim ownership of our new home, which we had lived in since 2007. The walls stood bare, scowling back at me, daring me to make the first move.

If I decorated, it meant this was our home. It meant I expected to be allowed to keep it. A big toss of my hair to the fates.

So, on the fifth anniversary of Katrina, I gathered what printed photos we had on hand and decided to make my move. All over the living room wall.

At the time, we had a big old hand-me-down TV on a big old hand-me-down table. My plan was to cover the wall behind the TV with framed photographs, every square inch of it. I made it about three frames out from the TV before I ran out of photos that would work with the frames. Feeling very “leave well enough alone,” I decided to finish the project another time, that this splash of memory was quite enough for now.

Four months later, we received a flat screen TV for Christmas. Completely awesome and completely not fitting the open space in the middle of the frames. So we took down this frame and that frame, enough to mount the TV on the wall, and then promised to rearrange the frames and complete the project shortly.

That TV is about to reach its one year anniversary on our wall and we haven’t done more than straighten the frames around it. And furiously eye the odd empty spaces where the missing frames never made it back up. That wall. I swear.

That wall. I am about to finish that wall. Finally.

A year after trying and failing to reclaim a piece of ourselves, Canon is stepping in to help us finish the job. This post is one of three sponsored by Canon as part of a closer look at their PIXMA printer.

I realize, a year later, that every little step between me and a completed photo project feels more like an impossible mile. I love ordering photos online (where I’ve learned to back up every shot), but sometimes inspiration and motivation just can’t wait the three days it takes for ordered photos to arrive. Sometimes you absolutely have to have the right tools on hand, right then, lest Inspiration leave you in her laughing wake.

Inspiration is approaching. I can hear her. This time, I’ll be ready.

Many thanks to Canon for sponsoring this post and for providing me (soon!) with a brand new PIXMA printer to finish the job of claiming our memories as our own.

 

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