(This is the eighth in a series of posts following Tyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit. All the previous posts are collected in the Summer Blog Project category.)
Exercise 8: Mining for Memory in a Photograph. Take a family photo, she uses a baby picture in her example, and study it. What do you see in your life is indisputably similar to your life today? What is vaguely similar? What ended up the opposite of what you see? The goal is to find something new in something old.
It would be cheating to use a picture of me that I love where I am about 3 and painting, so I chose this one (click on it to see it. Something has apparently gone wonky. ETA: image fine on one of my computers, but not the other. I give up!) instead. I am surprised at how few of them I ended up keeping after my parents passed on.
What do I see in this photo? I see a child who is happy rocking in a rocking chair. I am in motion and happy about it. You can see the tracks of the rocker in the carpet. She is in comfy clothes, pj’s and probably ought to be in bed.
I barely remember this house. I love the mid-century furniture, I remember this furniture. I have the red Eames rocker in my house today. I still love rocking chairs. I have 2 of them.
What is the same, besides the red rocker? The smile, the dimples, the curly hair and the eyes are obviously me. My love for color and movement is still there.
I am still a night owl by nature, but not in practice. I live in the real world, and the real world gets up in the morning. Repetitive motion is still soothing and fun for me. I doubt that will ever change.
What is different? I look at the utter joy in my face and wish I had more of it in my adult personality. Oh, I am a mostly happy person these days, and I have a great life, but that sort of glee is hard to come by. I want more of it!
There is no evidence of anyone in the picture but me. This makes me sad, not for what was, but for what never was there. My family is fractured and gone. For all practical intents and purposes, I have no family. It wasn’t a turbulent or tragic family, there was no explosion that rocked it apart. It was just not a close or accepting one. Too many secrets and untruths to survive. Some families are meant to fall apart so new ones can be made.
We have built a new one, that is closer and better than the one I came from.
What is sort of the same is the beige. I know the color has faded and changed over the years, but I am surprised by how neutral this scene is. No color, no personality in evidence. The carpet, the walls, the window blinds, the chairs, the pajamas. The only real color is the red chair.