Picture the Best You
by Michelle Jester
I like to see the positive in life as much as I can. Next month I will be turning 49! I'll have 49 year old wrinkles, a 49 year old body, 49 years’ worth of experience, and a 49 year old birth certificate. However, my most important asset is my heart, which most days feels caught somewhere between 16-24. While many women dread being older, I feel blessed.
Secret time: I really never thought I’d make it to my forties. Why? I’ve analyzed it over the years to understand why I felt that way and the only probable reason I was able to conclude was that when I was younger it seemed every woman I knew over forty was miserable. I just couldn’t picture myself being miserable. I don’t often feel depressed or discontent and thought it just wouldn’t suit me very well. Ironically, growing up I never feared growing older. Instead, I always looked forward to it purposefully.
That decision was sorely tested when I had an auto accident years ago. I faced my mortality with a new stark clarity and inevitable truth: I really will die one day, any day, any minute. It wasn’t that I was close to death physically, because I wasn’t, it’s that my mind faced the fear that I was. Following that day several close friends and family passed away fortifying my… our, predictable end to life on earth. Before that day I just thought I’d probably die before I became miserable. .. one day. One far off, down the road day.
Truth is, I could die today (and if I do this blog will be SUPER CREEPY). I could have a heart attack while eating breakfast (that was easier to type since I already ate breakfast.). However, I want to enjoy what I have now. I want to see beauty all around me and to fall in love with as many things as possible.
One of my favorite things is, obviously, photography. I not only love taking pictures, but I love seeing other people’s pictures. My love for photography started really young, fostered by my father. Long before cell phones and social media he took pictures of everything in his quest to preserve memories. When he and mom passed away we were so thankful to have all of those memories locked on film. I remember getting my children their first cameras and I am so happy to have their first chronicles on film.
Now in the age of cell phones and social media I have several of my friends who posts beautiful pictures regularly and I love it. I get to experience their journey with them through life. To me, it’s personal and rewarding. I believe they each truly find beauty all around them wherever they go. Best part of it is that they share that beauty with everyone. Part of their enjoyment IS in TAKING the picture, same as me.
I remember a commercial where a man and young girl were sitting on a mountain looking out at a gorgeous view. The girl goes to raise her phone to take a picture and the man grabbed her arm and lowered it. The point was to “enjoy” life by “feeling” it. The man was blind. As powerful as it was intended to be, my first thought was “Let the girl take the picture, she’ll never be here again! She’ll regret not having it. She’s taking it because she is already enjoying and feeling it.” (Second thought “How did he know she was raising her phone if he is blind?”) Obviously other people had that same reaction and the commercial was edited to take out that particular ending.
There is always the one in your group (or two or three) like me who is always taking pictures. That is one of the ways we enjoy life. For those of you that think we are “missing out” on enjoying the moment, try to understand that this is our way of enjoying it.
Being happy today to live does not mean I‘ll be sad if I die tomorrow; I won’t be. It just means I’m thankful to be 49 and sharing it! And that I’ll have mapped some of my most precious memories on my camera roll for my family to enjoy long after I’m gone.
And if that is tomorrow, before breakfast, so be it.