A Life. In Pictures

Hello, my Posse loves!  I’ve been thinking about A Life – most especially My Life – as I sort through a box of  pictures. Recently there’s been an uptick in ‘reflections’, on this blog as well as in everyday life.  I’ve noticed so many people ‘assessing’ (beware: there are likely to be a LOT of words and phrases in italics and quotations in this post.  deal with it ;-).  A lot of it is for those of us who are reaching milestone birthdays or are just taking a look at Life from a different perspective, as we age (which, if you think about it, is an everyday occurrence.  As my dad used to say ‘you get old or you get dead’ – truer words never spoken.  I’m not immune to this type of musing, especially during the late Winter months.  Interesting thing, Late Winter; in Early Winter time is usually spent just dealing with Winter itself.  But by late February you’re pretty sick of fighting the weather that never seems to STOP! so… ennui starts to set in.  And Too. Much. Thinking – and thinking dumb.

Like:  what have I done with my life?  Why am I not (fill in the blank – mine usually starts with someone like Oprah.  Or Marie Curie (a thought which I quickly discard because…OW! but you get the drift).   Now, I think this is not unusual, especially in these days of Social Media showing us ALL THE FABULOUS! but… really?  Is that really how I want to spend my time, comparing myself to celebrities and influencers and Floydknowswhoelse?  How ’bout I take a look at Me.  And what better way to do it than with pictures.

I started sorting a box of photos while Alexa played my bizarroworld playlist (yeah – try going from Shirley Horn to some K-pop in the space of 3 minutes.  Let me know when your head unexplodes! lol!)…. anyhoo – the sorting of this box was fascinating.  Jumbled as they were, I would come upon an old lover … and then come upon a photo of his (later) family… a photo of my dad, taken when he was 20 years younger than I am now… so disorienting.  Me… at the baptismal fount (and I’m Catholic, so you know that was an infant dunk)… people who, at the time of the various photos, completely dominated my world…and now I struggle to remember their names. Photo after photo of people important (and once important) to me, then I come upon a photo of a chance acquaintance and suddenly… a memory flash of such blinding clarity that it leaves me gasping.

My Life in Houses.  Pretty much everywhere I ever lived is in a photo.   My first loft.  In a nanosecond, my entire young adult life came roaring back – all the hopes and dreams for my first marriage, even as I knew it wouldn’t last.  The delight of my first ‘adult’ friend group, at parties in our first house, too many of whom are now gone.

You want Reason/Season/Lifetime?? Look at your life’s pictures.

I came across photos of my first ‘real’ love while (unironically, I hope) Sam Hunt sang ’23’.  “No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I’ll never be 23 with anyone but you’.  I thought it would depress me – but, you know, it didn’t.  Unless you die at 22, everyone gets to be 23.   And after that, 23 becomes a memory.  And that’s how it should be.  At 23 I was madly in love with a young man whom I Very Nearly Married.  Looking back … omg.  What a disaster that would’ve been.  I would’ve been miserable, and I would’ve destroyed him.  Yoiks! Later he married a much more suitable woman.

But he’ll never be 23 with anyone but me.

Here’s a weird one:  decades ago, I did several paintings of a group of people at a beach.  My mother is in those photos which, weirdly, I always forget – but here’s the kicker – I did this whole, HUGE, painting… and never once realized that my mother’s first husband is also in that photo!  Finding the photo and photos of the paintings brought back the memory of my 7yr old self in absolute shock at finding out my mother had married prior to my father.  Don’t forget, this was the Jurassic Era where divorce was not the venerable institution it is today.  And I grew up in Beaver Cleaver Land.  People simply did. not. divorce.  (newsflash: they did.  they just didn’t talk about it).  Even weirder?  I never noticed that my mother’s first husband bears an uncanny resemblance to my mother’s second husband – my father.  They could be brothers.  They could be twins.  Obviously my mother had a Type.  Gorgeous, bonkers men.  Hmmm….

How could I forget this?  It’s HUGE!

So. Many. Dogs.  Including a photo of my dad, in short pants, and his dog, Wompy, taken 91 years ago. and .. I don’t know that dog but I know that dog. And I love that dog.  Because he loved my dad. And my dad loved him.

Anyhoo – I thought poking at those photos might be a trip down Misery Lane – instead, it’s simply a testament to a Life.  A life spent observing, a life spent doing (those paintings didn’t paint themselves, those cakes didn’t fall out of the sky), a life full of love, touched by tragedy (and whose isn’t?), a life of dreams realized – and dreams deferred.

In short, A Life.  And I’ll bet that each and every one of you, reading this, is tripping just a bit through your own lives.  As well you should.  Because last time I looked, this is the only life we have.  Like most of us, on occasion I will ask ‘is that all there is? – is this all I am?’ – then I remember that it is (or should be) okay to Just Be.  Do you, whatever that ‘you’ is.  I’m reminded what one of my favorite bladesmiths, Burt Foster, wrote in a blog post What if the physical products of my work serve their purpose in this time and though doomed to eventual destruction, the work itself – the attitude, the passion, the blood, sweat and years are themselves eternal?

Now. I’m not a Master Bladesmith but I get his point. What if this, this Life?  What if it is enough?  I am a person who is living her life, even if it’s just walking Yet Another Dog. And trying to do it in grace and with honor.  And, when you think about it, isn’t it enough to just live?

Just sayin’.

So.  Life. Yours.  Live it.  And while you’re here, tell me how you’re doing with Life right now!  Hope it’s going good…. good-ish? … great?  (that would be great!!!)

  • Queen-Cupcake says:

    Prayers for Jin and Portia!

    And all of us, really, especially the good and brave people of Ukraine.

    Musette, your post is one I will save and re-read for a long time. I have boxes and boxes of photos, so will find some time to look at them soon. I remember thinking that I was old and over the hill at 25. Then I realized that I was not in the Right Place. So I moved to Boston and got my dream job, eventually, even though I didn’t recognize it as such right away. Thanks for the reminder to Just Be. XOXOX

  • grizzlesnort says:

    I just read this last night:–“And now? Can you hear all the universes glimmering in your heart? Are you ready to drop the world’s bait? What would happen if we each renounce the need for a grand narrative and simply vow to be present for each moment along the path? Yesterday I am an old man sitting in an ocean of grass. Tomorrow I am an infant growing in the billion-billion armed cave of night. I am. I am not. I am again. Maybe one day someone might come seeking me.”
    FROM : When I Am Gone Look for me in the East.

    We cannot ignore the burning of Ukraine and we cannot ignore the toilet that needs fixing or the crazy, homeless woman making camp on half a block’s worth of sidewalk on NE Sandy and we cannot ignore the fact that all the plum trees bloomed last night and are glowing in the silvery mist of morning– which we might have missed had the dog not needed to go tee-tee.

  • March says:

    What a beautiful post. I had to pack up and make a lot of decisions when moving out here, and my daughter had to come over and hold my hand (sometimes literally) while I sorted through and decided what to do with all my photos of my former life, and the life before that … she’s got most of them, I have some. Like some of the commenters below, I am … a forward looking person. Looking at old photos in any kind of volume fills me with grief, or longing, rather than joy. I wish those feelings were different, but they aren’t, at least not now.

  • cinnamon says:

    That painting is amazing. I am almost finished reading a book called Being Mortal (Atul Gawande, a Boston-based surgeon) which is about everything you’ve written about. It is harrowing but very timely and useful, and beautifully written. As I’m almost finished editing a long, badly written note I continue to wonder why, given my age and what I want to be doing with my time, I say yes to these things. Feh.

  • Alityke says:

    I’m not big on photos, never have been. Nor am I particularly nostalgic. I spent too long listening to my fathers family reminiscing about how things had been. They came from a moneyed family & had expectations of inheritances & jobs in the family businesses. The uncle who’s hands the family businesses & finances were in gambled every last penny away!

    So I live in the now. As the saying goes “it’s no use crying over spilt milk”. Playing “what if” isn’t healthy.

    Honouring your life choices, as you have here Musette is, I’m sure, a healthy way to look back

  • Lemoncake says:

    Your post is so timely….lots of changes in my life over the past year. I’m also in a reflective mood and this hit me at the right time. Now, I only need your playlist to listen to as I ponder!

  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    Honestly? You caught me in sad mode.
    Jin has Covid. He’s been in our bedroom since Thursday last week. I drop food inside the door, take away the plates and refuse. We have minuscule chats and then he shoos me out. We talk by phone.
    I’m isolating for the week, totally fine health wise but of course I can’t work. AGAIN!
    It’s not stopped raining here for weeks. There are floods all down the Eastern Seaboard of Australia.
    I’m sad.

    Yeah, I know that the whole world has it worse than me. The guilt of knowing that and still being a sad MoFo doesn’t help.

    Your post was a very bright point in my sad though. Thank you.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      Others in the world might have it worse but that doesn’t make a situation that sucks any better. Be good to yourself and know that we care.

    • Alityke says:

      I hope Jin completely very quickly. My youngest son took 9 days to get a -ve lat flow test even though he had few symptoms. Big hugs to you both

    • MizChris says:

      Oh Portia! I just lit candles for you and Jin on my Bast altar. Don’t forget to care for yourself as well as your dear husband. There is nothing inappropriate about feeling/being a ‘sad MoFo’ right now. That feeling will pass. Love to both of you.

      • Portia says:

        Thank you MizChris
        Yeah, I’m doing fine today. It was just a bad moment that passed, as they do.
        Love right back.
        Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      With Tom. That sucks. I hope Jin is better very soon and you don’t catch it. As to floods, they suck too. We get them here and just so destructive and depressing (all that water). I hope that changes soon too.

      • Portia says:

        Thanks Cinnamon,
        Yeah, the smell of after flood is quite disturbing too. Though we didn’t get flooded the park across the road does not smell good, mouldy and vase water-ish.
        Sunshine predicted for the next two days. Fingers crossed.
        Portia xx

    • March says:

      Sweetheart. You are allowed to be sad, this is a tough time. You and Jin are in my evening prayers; I light a candle and think of what I’m grateful for, and the people I care about. Hugs.

    • Musette says:

      And..fwiw..you have the right to your emotions. Yeah,we have it better than a lot of people but..okay. that’s nice. You still have the right to be sad. All my love to you both.

      • Portia says:

        HA! Musette,
        Crap was exactly the feel.
        BTW, some of these comments are bloody wonderful. So deep and warm.
        Thanks for this post.
        Portia xx

  • Tom says:

    I think I’ve yakked and yakked about my life over the years on here and other interwebs places I’m sure you’re all heartily sick of it. Do I wish I could go back in time and tell my seven year old self to study law and maybe slip me some stock advice? Well, yeah. But oh well.

    23? Oh Lordy. I was at the Olympics in LA at the Arts festival, flirting with Derek Jacobi and completely headover with a straight guy with shoulders out to there and the IQ of ham who liked me, but I think I scared him rigid. I was so homesick for NY I cried at “Ghostbusters.” Being 23 it never occurred to me that any of this was in any way out of the ordinary and of course just the way things happen when you grow up in Western Mass. Didn’t everybody have that happen?

    Crazy thing is that I have almost no photos of anything. I never really took them, and never kept them. Pity.

  • Dina C. says:

    My life is pretty fine-ish right now. I’m blessed. But I’m grieving the loss of a childhood friend’s daughter. This 27 year old gal was overcome by post-partum depression and took her own life last week. Her family have been posting scads of beautiful photos of this dear girl. They’re haunting, that’s for sure, and no substitute for the person that everyone misses.

  • Tara C says:

    Still in the aftermath of a significant birthday and a disastrous move. I think I’ve finally reached equanimity about it, but it’s touch and go. I avoid looking at photos, too many difficult emotions. But I’m healthy, my dog is young & healthy, and I still have most of my sanity, so life is good.

    • Musette says:

      Yep! Given that you are in solid enough straits to comment? Life. Is. Good. Focus on the Good right now – and if photos ain’t Good??? Leave them be for now.


  • Pam says:

    What a Muse! What a post! I tend to hate old photos, probably for this reason. Live in the moment. And I try not to think What If, but it’s hard. And Facebook is not helpful.

    • Musette says:

      Social Media is …useful. But it is also viciously insidious, like an Inland Taipan slithering around in a cabinet… I approach all SocMed with extreme caution.


  • Filomena says:

    My life: I am now old and alone, I still work full time (just had my 35th work anniversary. But I am still living and loving life, which is as good as it gets, and we may as well enjoy it while the getting is good!

    • Musette says:

      You sound AMAZING, tbh. I worried about being ‘old and alone’ … then I remembered that I was never lonelier than when I was bound to someone – and in a bad situation. Alone is cool. Lonely sucks donkey dicks.