I’ve been scanning old photos into my computer lately–lots of them. I’ve been quite surprised how they’ve given me a renewed sense of connection with the people and places in my family history.
Some pictures have writing on the back, naming someone I might not otherwise recognize or indicating a date I wouldn’t be able to guess. But most have no text at all, and I’ve surprised myself by being able to name names and guess dates with a fair amount of accuracy (I think).
I’ve especially enjoyed the black and white pictures. They have a certain character that speaks of a long-ago time markedly different from our own. These pictures speak of a slower, less technological time, but of a period in which the human need for relationship and life satisfaction was just as important as it is today.
In working with these pictures, I’ve felt more connected to my past. I feel closer to those who have died, most of them long ago, including my parents. As I see a small glimmer of their lives through the lens of these photos, I gain an appreciation of how they lived their lives with dignity and honesty, evoking within me the tender emotions of love and longing.
I’ve also discovered that looking at my past has grounded me in the present. I’ve gained a more immediate sense of how life advances quickly—and it’s not just a cliché. With each passing moment, life moves forward, sometimes much too fast, and invites me to live the best I can, hopefully with reflection, compassion and most of all, gratitude.