Photographs, Memories, and Magic

Polaroid from pexels

Life is like a Polaroid

When I was a child, my father had a Polaroid camera. Although he was not a particularly proficient photographer, somehow 90% of his pictures came out with wonderful clarity and accents. I always thought it was magic. I have always loved photographs. The ones I have taken and ones I have not. Parts of my life, and photos that are strange and different to me. They hold for me memories of moments past, and perhaps a glimpse into the future.

From an early age, I was acquainted with how photography worked. In an abstract kind of 7 year old way, I understood. The film is exposed to light to capture the image and then through the reaction of certain chemicals that image was transferred to paper. It was all very scientific and very mysterious. I preferred the idea that it was magic. Magic made sense to me, more sense than most things in my little world.

As the oldest, I was the designated “picture guard.” I would either hold the undeveloped photo or stand guard over the picnic table fanning the air to prevent pine needles, insects and other contaminants from defacing the pictures. Daddy would snap the button and a small magic square would emerge from the bottom of the camera. He would fan it through the air a few times (to cast the magic spell I was sure), then hand it to me.

I still remember holding that magic square in my little hands, watching with eager anticipation as the colors turned from black to a murky green, and then the magic went to work and slowly, an image began to appear. First a little corner of blue/green, then a bit of yellow here and dull brown there. With excruciating patience (for a 7 year old), I waited. Sometimes I held my breath certain that THIS time the magic would fail and I would be stuck with a square green blob, but it never did. In time, my patience was rewarded with a moment, a scene, a piece of my life, captured forever in clear detail.

A Polaroid I have found is much like life. If you wait long enough, the magic works and the picture becomes clear. The simple abstract colors of childhood, the slowly emerging images of who we may become of our youth, and finally the clear picture of life and who we really are that we find with the surety of maturity.

If you are still in your youth, (and to me that means 55 of less) take heart, the magic won’t fail you either. Those images will resolve, you will find your voice, the picture will become clear. Just give the magic time.

Peace ~jpp

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