I wrote this maybe a year ago, to post on my work’s blog. But I suppose I didn’t think there was much of an audience for it on that blog, so I decided not to post it. Now, as I’m cleaning up my work laptop, I came across it and decided to go ahead and add it here.
Recently, I watched ‘Dark Side of the Lens,’ a video about bodyboarder and photographer Mickey Smith. Beside the stunning photography work and the beautifully written story, I was moved by one quote in particular.
If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scrapping. If there’s no future in it, at least it’s a present worth remembering.”
Is your present worth remembering? For every photograph we take, or story we write, we assess our present as worth immortalizing in some way.
When my father asked me to design a Web site for him to post old family photographs, I agreed hesitantly because, for one, he’s not very computer literate (he’s much better now than when I first wrote this, by the way). Also, I thought it would enable some sort of midlife crisis in which he was looking back at old memories of better, dreamier days — days when it did not feel as if time was running out.
But these days, he has his own domain and blog, which he has populated with an incredible collection of historical photographs from people, life and culture in Italy and Panama.
We’ve had our ups and downs getting to this point, including countless minutes spent going over the differences between a Web site with more or less static information, and a blog. Some days there were streams of phone calls (and texts, God forbid) because the site wasn’t matching his vision. The moral for me was to treat all projects, whether it’s for family or friends, as if they were money-paying clients who deserve a full, in-depth, patient explanation of every aspect of their site.
And for my efforts I received some of the best forms of payment, such as Panamanian coffee, Italian hair products (not to be found in the U.S.), and a lifetime of privileged, wisdom-laden statements such as “hmm” and “grrrr.” The best, though, is to have given him an outlet for something he, for whatever reasons he chooses, feels passionate about at this very moment in time.
Maybe 10 years from now, he will fondly remember those cold, lazy Sunday mornings trying to figure out the WordPress editor, and how to insert an image, or crop his photos in Photoshop, all the while cursing like a sailor and taking mini breaks to make more coffee that he drinks out of teeny tiny China cups. And while at times I wish he would try harder to make his present worth remembering and documenting, instead of dwelling in a past long buried by time, he would say he lives by his own inspirational quote:
El recuerdo es el único paraíso del cual no podemos ser expulsados”
“Memories are the only paradise from where we can never be expelled.” Go check out some of his memories, which he is documenting and sharing on this world wide web, for all to see.
And leave him a comment, it will make his day and will perhaps convince him to keep me as his Web designer. Because I don’t know what I would do without that Panamanian coffee and those cheap Aldi chocolate bars he sends me in the mail.