We all take so many pictures. We snap, snap, snap away. Color. Black and white. Sepia. Antique. We edit and crop and enhance the color. We create albums. Physical. Virtual. We look at them. We share them. We craft cute little captions. We splash photos on Facebook. On blogs. We line them up on all the mantles of our lives.
And this makes sense. Perfect sense. Life is fast. It blurs by. Minutes march on. Hours pile up. Each day gives way to the next. And, before we know it, it's a new season. And then a new year. Blossoms perking and scattering. Snow falling and melting. Sun waving hello and goodbye. Time is at once so predictable and so cruel.
Time is time. And in its grand shadow, we live our lives. There is nothing we can do to stop time, but we can take pictures, we can cull evidence, we can hoard memories. So we do. We take pictures of first days and first smiles and first steps. We take pictures of brides shrouded in euphoric organza. We take pictures of babies swaddled in bellies and blankets. We take pictures on birthdays and graduation days and on regular days. We do this so we can capture moments that otherwise slip from us. We do this so we can remember. And maybe understand. We do this so we can re-enter a world we have left behind. We do this so we can play old school show and tell.
Pictures are great. But what about words?
Words are windows. Into our lives. Into ourselves. Into our dreams.
Words are the way out. Of trauma. Of despair. Of insecurity.
Words are the way in. To passion. To self. To soul.
One of my very best friends in the world had a baby girl not long ago. Sadly, I have not met this beautiful little girl. Sadly, I have not yet been able to see my good friend as a mother. Sadly, this friend moved many miles away. But I have seen pictures. Of this darling baby girl. Even of her gorgeous little nursery. And I have seen pictures of my friend, clutching a burgeoning belly, cradling new life, pushing that stroller we all have. I am so thankful for these pictures.
But two days ago, my friend emailed me something else. Not pictures this time. She emailed me a love poem she had written for her tiny girl. She sent it to me because she had read that I think happiness is seeing the poetry in the everyday. She sent it to me because she thought I might like it. And I do. I love it.
Cozy in the corner of yet another Starbucks somewhere in this big city, I read this poem. I read it and smiled and giggled aloud. Because those words, those warm and fuzzy and delicious words, were little windows. Windows into my friend whom I miss very much. Windows into a little baby whom I hope to meet, and hold, soon. Windows into who my friend was, and is now, and is becoming. I saw more through those words than I did through any of the countless pictures I've seen.
And so it occurred to me to tell you this. Because I think whether you are fellow parent or person, you should write things down. Sentences. Stories. Dreams. Forget about vocabulary and grammar and punctuation. Forget about cadence and structure and audience.
Write about your frustration or your elation. Write about that hilarious sentence your child uttered. Write about the lonely stranger on the bus. Write about the color of the sky or the pattern of the clouds. Write about your heart and your hurt. Write about whom you hope to meet or whom you hope to be. Write about childhood and adulthood and personhood.
And then publish your words. Or hide them away. It doesn't matter.
Just write. Words. Because pictures are priceless, but they aren't enough. Words are the best windows.
Here is my friend's ode to her precious baby girl:
Are you a believer in the redemptive powers of writing, of stringing words together? If not, I hope to convert you. Have you ever kept a journal? Leave me a comment about this post, or my friend's sweet poem, or anything at all. Write words or sentences or paragraphs or an entire essay. Write now. Thank me later.