When Life Gives You Lemons…

…you chop that lemon up and make yourself a tall, refreshing glass of lemon water.

I don’t know about you guys, but it’s been a tough week.

Last weekend I got to spend some quality time with my family and friends in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. But come Tuesday not only did I have to say goodbye to them yet again, I also had to say goodbye to my dog, Maple. Maple is 13 years old and each time I say goodbye, I wonder if that’ll be the last time I ever see her.

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13 years old but she’ll always be a puppy in my eyes.

Suffice to say, I miss my family and friends and I’m pre-mourning the loss of my best childhood companion.

Coming back to work after a long weekend is hard enough without the post-vacation blues, but my bad week doesn’t end there! Late Wednesday evening I decided to sync my iCloud Photo library across all my Apple devices. You see, whenever I go home I always take a billion pictures of Maple (just in case, you know?) and long story short, as I was trying to upload all these photos I somehow lost my entire camera roll to the infinite mystery that is the “cloud”. It was fairly tragic.

Here’s the funny thing though:

I’m actually not that upset.

And this feeling (or lack thereof) weirds me out. I feel like losing 2000+ photos and videos – taken over the better part of the last few years – should emotionally cripple me. But it doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally freaked out for a good day or so. But I soon realized that I couldn’t even remember 80% of the pictures that I had lost. Too often we just snap photos of something without ever truly looking at it. That thought bothered me more than the fact that I had just lost my entire camera roll.

Have you ever heard of tabula rasa? It’s a Latin phrase – and also the title of a fantastic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode – translated in English as “blank slate”. Well, that’s pretty much what my camera roll embodies at this point: a blank slate; a clean slate.

I’m in the process of recovering said lost photos, but the point I want to emphasize here is my non-visceral reaction to this situation.

I have spent the past few years becoming the person that I am today and every day I continue to learn and grow into the woman that I want to be. The struggle of separating my need for physical embodiments of my self-worth and value from my own personal contentment with my life has been a difficult obstacle to overcome. That is to say, old habits die hard and I know for a fact that had this happened to me 3 or 4 years ago, I would have been absolutely crushed. But right now, I’m okay, because I’ve learnt that my memories are worth more than the collective number of digital representations I’ve taken of them.

Let’s all remember that pictures are taken to preserve memories. Memories of situations we’ve been a part of; that we’ve lived through. Take out your phone and look at a photo. Do you remember being there? Do you remember what it feels like? Can you recall the smells? The sounds? The tastes?

I always have a moment, whenever I travel, where I close my eyes and stand very still. I place my hands on whatever building or structure is nearest to me, I take a deep breath and I listen deeply to the sounds of the world around me. I try to remember moments with more than just my eyes. I try to remember them with my ears and my hands and my nose and my tongue.

Right now, I can close my eyes and actually remember the feeling of Maple’s fur. I can feel the lumps on her skin and the feathery strands of her tail. I can feel her chest rising and falling with each passing breath and her muscles stretching as I scratch a particularly pleasant spot behind her ears.

I don’t want to just remember moments. I want to relive them. I want to be able to close my eyes and find myself at the Roman Forum or on the canals of Venice or simply sitting on the living room floor petting my dog.

I want these moments more than I want the photos I’ve lost.

And that, my friends, is how I know that my bad week is going to be okay.

The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become of it. – John Ruskin

(Featured image: Kathryn Ho, www.instagram.com/khitters)

10 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Lemons…

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