There was a small group of friends I had in High School, and right now, at this very moment, I know three are dead, one is insane, one is in Federal Prison, and I’ve lost track of two or three more. I have no photos of any of these people to prove they ever existed. There are a good half-dozen dogs I knew when I was a kid that are long gone, and I have no photos of them, either.
Cameras weren’t precision instruments when I was young. Photos didn’t always come out well. Some never came out at all. I didn’t even see a digital camera until the 1990’s. Now, you can get one out of a bubble gum machine.
I had no idea a friend of mine would be murdered in 1980. There’s no way to think it will happen to anyone, but it does happen. Car wrecks are fairly common. Cancer isn’t rare at our age. I wish I had taken more photos. I wish I had pictures of the friends I once had and the dogs I once love. I wish I had photos of some of the things I’ve seen and the places I’ve visited. But as far as photos go, the first thirty years of my life pretty much doesn’t exist, except in my mind, and the minds of other people, who are dying off, like dinosaurs on a planet that can no longer sustain them.
Don’t live your life taking photos of every second of every day, but don’t hesitate to record where you are, and who you are there with, and don’t wait until the moment is gone to wistfully wonder if your memory has it right, or if it’s just imagination.
There used to be a rope swing by the river, and for years we would go down to the Chattahoochee and swing high in the air, and land in the cool water below. There was an old wooden platform that we launched from, and if the right people got on at the right time, we could get seven or eight people on that rope. It was one of those ropes that was used to moor the tanker barges to the docks near Columbia Alabama and we were certain it would never break. One day, we were down at the river swinging as I heard a terrible cracking sound, and people were yelling. The tree had broken. It split in two and broke in the middle, and I was surprised to see the center was rotted out. No one was hurt, and that itself was a miracle, but the tree was gone, and before anyone thought to stop it, the rope tied to the piece of the broken tree floated away. It didn’t matter, because the County closed the landing in the early 80’s, and now nothing remains of the site of many fun-filled hours with people I grew up with decades ago.
Take pictures of your life. Take photos of dogs and people you love, and places that matter. One day, they will be all that’s left of a tree, a place, or a person, and you’ll wish you had more.