Let's see. All the ones of my son go in this pile. All the ones of my youngest daughter go in that pile. And the two older daughters' photos go in those piles there.
I had over one thousand photos! At the very least. That's a hecka lot of photographs.
There were lots of pictures of the daughter I never see because she is really busy with her job. Yet I am seeing her now -- her photos are there in my hands.
There were lots of photos of my second daughter -- the one who claims she had such an unhappy childhood and it was all my fault. Yet here are at least a hundred photos of her laughing and playing and celebrating birthday after birthday with all of her friends happily gathered around her. Humph.
There were photos of my son playing on the slide at pre-school, playing Superman with his best friend, playing baseball in Little League, playing in his rock band in high school, working hard at UC Santa Cruz and graduating from college with a degree in filmmaking.
And there were at least 200 photos of my radiant and wonderful third daughter doing all kinds of things, smiling at the camera and living life LARGE. There's her on the water polo team, in the school plays, wearing her varsity letter jacket, speaking before the City Council, receiving her Girl Scout Gold Award, at her part-time job at the local ice rink, leaving for her first day of college. But that was before she fell in LUV -- and her sleazy boyfriend forced her to chose between him and everything else and she chose HIM. Yuck!
Then, among all those fabulous photos of my daughter, I found a letter from the sleazy boyfriend. "Remember the time I slammed you against the wall so many times and then choked you until you lost consciousness...."
It's been over a year now since I've seen my youngest daughter and I know that there's a very good chance that I will never see her again -- but at least I still have her photos.
Thank goodness for photographs.
And if we can have photos of the past to carry around with us to remind us of where we have been, why can't we also create photo images in our minds to remind us of where we are going?
Of course the ultimate photograph of the future -- one that all of us will share -- is of the white light that ALL of us will eventually walk towards when we die because EVERYONE eventually dies. Even the worst murderous dictator. Even the most saintly saint.
And when we get to that brilliant white light, we'd better sure-as-hell have our stories straight. Or, as they say in the Byzantine Catholic liturgy, "That the end of our life may be painless, unashamed, and peaceful, and for a good defense before the awesome judgment seat of Christ, let us ask."
It's true. When we get to the light, we will be asked ONLY one question: "While you were on earth, how many good deeds did you do?" Nothing else will be important. Everything else will fall away.
Photos of the future? I carry them around with me constantly, in my heart and in my brain.
"Look. Here's me giving a dollar to a homeless person. Here's me, helping a child. And that's me over there, smiling. Here's me, trying to be more tolerant. And this is me, trying to stop a war."
I carry those images of the future around with me constantly. And they help me to focus on what is truly important. And they keep me from getting lost in the mundane details of day-to-day life. They keep me from being mean -- I'm really good at being mean (I'm the queen of carrying a grudge). And they also help me to organize my life.
Now if I can only get my home organized....
PS: I just ran into someone who knows my daughter's sleazy boyfriend and he said, "Man, you gotta stop TRIPPIN' about your daughter! I seen her and the boyfriend together and the straight truth is that SHE is the one who beats up on HIM!" Whew. I'm certainly glad to hear that all those years of martial arts I forced her to take when she was a kid are finally being put to good use.