Monday, December 30, 2013

Memento mori

"All photographs are memento mori.
To take a photograph is to participate in another person's
(or thing's) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.
Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it,
all photographs testify to time's relentless melt."

-- Susan Sontag 

Self portrait 12-30-13

"It's being here now that's important.
There's no past and there's no future.
Time is a very misleading thing.
All there is ever, is the now.
We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it;
and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one."

-- George Harrison

"How did it get so late so soon?
 It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?"

-- Dr. Seuss

memento mori
"remember that you will die"

There's that beautiful song in the musical Rent, called "Seasons of Love." The entire cast sings over and over about the five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes that make up a year in everybody's life. They repeatedly ask the question "How do you measure" the minutes that comprise those years, and they offer some possibilities:

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife ...
In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

They're all good suggestions. But I chose to measure the past year of my life in faces. 

And in doing so, along the way I simultaneously measured with pretty much all of the items on the Rent list: daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee, inches, miles, laughter, strife, truths, tears, burnt bridges, death. 

I don't know how significant my life is in the grand scheme of things. I'm guessing not very. When my life is finally over, probably aside from my family, I won't register on the radar much. The universe probably isn't going to buckle at the knees over the loss of a middle aged (former) insomniac from Ohio who spent her days in a small upstairs room taking pictures of herself and her toys. 

It's unlikely that any of my photographs from 2013 will wind up in a gallery, or a book, or a museum, or a store. My blog will never get a million hits. That was never my goal anyway. I'm not interested in where my photographs end up. I'm interested in where my photographs take me, whether they take me toward something I have yet to discover, or whether they take me away from something I need to leave behind.

As Susan Sontag said in today's top quote, "All photographs are memento mori." They're records and reminders of what we all have to lose, evidence of somethings and someones that will eventually be permanently erased. I guess my photographs represent that tiny, tinny voice inside us all that cries "I was here!" "I lived." "I loved." "I struggled." "I tried." "I kept going." "I learned." "I saw." "I cared." "I didn't give up when I was too exhausted to want to keep living." "I found a way to survive." "I wrestled the demons." "I stumbled upon joy."

It's been an unforgettable year.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart to anyone who took a few minutes out of their five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred to stumble along with me.