In Focus

On the radio this morning I heard a story about a new camera going on the market. It clips onto your lapel or shirt or purse or whatever, and automatically takes a picture every 30 seconds for two solid days. That’s 4,000 snapshots of your life captured on film, preserved for you to remember or share with others.

A snapshot every 30 seconds. 4,000 pictures of my life to look through and filter.

Once I got past the idea of pictures of myself brushing my teeth and taking out the trash and washing sippy cups, I began thinking about what the other pictures would reveal. If a picture were taken of me every 30 seconds, what would the pictures show?

If I had photographic accountability for how I spend my time and live my life, would the pictures even be worth seeing?

I kind of cringe when I think what the snapshots might show people. There would be a sad number of pictures, taken from the vantage point of my collar, showing my computer screen. My iPod touch lifted into view with my email account opened. My TV screen with still images of Army Wives. It makes me sad to think that the majority of the pictures probably wouldn’t show what I like to think my life is about.

Would the pictures show my Bible? My daughter’s face as she and I play together? My husband’s face as we sit and talk at the end of the day? My parents’ faces as we sit and talk over lunch?

What would the automatic snapshots of my life show? And how can I refocus the camera to capture something I might actually like to remember?

Even as I write those words, I realize it’s not a fresh idea I’m introducing. I know it sounds more than a little bit cheesy to ask about the snapshots of your life….but the reality is that one day, be it soon or far into the future, we will be looking back on our lives like we would a photo album. We’ll grab a cup of coffee and settle in on the couch, flipping the pages as we recall memories of life. Some pages we’ll turn quickly, not wanting to relive the images we see there. Other pages, though, we will sit with for awhile. We’ll scan the images with our eyes…trace the outlines with our fingers…smile back at the smiling faces we see before us. Eventually the book will fall open to that page automatically, simply because of our desire to return there again and again.

The pictures will not lie. They will not garnish the truth of what we have lived, but will reveal who we are and what our life has been with astounding focus. We will see, all at once, what kind of story we told with our lives.

The question I’m asking myself today is simply this: how can I make sure there are more pages I want to return to, than those that I do not?

This is not about living the perfect life. It’s not about never, ever making a mistake. If that were the message here, I would certainly not be the one to write this. What this is about, though, is really living our lives. Really being where we are. Really embracing what we have and seeing what’s in front of us. Really making our lives about what we say life is about.

The snapshots of my life aren’t literally piling up in shoeboxes in my closet, but a lifetime of memories is in progress. In the interest of making memories I will cherish, I’m thinking on this today. Something may need to change. Maybe not. But the most important thing is that it’s in my consciousness, because the camera doesn’t lie.

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