“It’s only when you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”
Gone, Daddy, gone, as the Violent Femmes song goes. Every single picture that I’ve taken before last Tuesday morning is gone. Everything dating back to my adventures in Canada to my current life in Oregon. All the pictures that are wrought with excitement, adventure and overall oddities are gone. I’m shattered. The last picture I have that I have dating back to my past is a picture I took on my airplane ride over back to South Carolina, a stupid picture of a Battleship game that I won on the little screen that’s supposed to keep you busy on cross country flights.
I went to retrieve a picture of a certain scene from my travels to Seattle and I about puked, they were all gone. No pictures of the Ferris wheel, no pictures of me acting funny in front of an oversized carved mariner, gone. The problem with this is that I really can’t remember most of those memories without having some sort of photograph to trigger something deep in my temporal lobe. I know I was there, but I don’t remember what or why I was doing those things. Again, my stomach is in knots and I am puzzled as to what happened. Did some gnome come in during the middle of the night and decide to erase my memories? Did some wicked phone virus decide to hijack my phone and take all of my pictures and put them on some weird fetish site on the internet somewhere? If so, well, I guess I’m glad I’m out there somewhere.
“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.”
Homer, The Iliad
This is not the first time this has happened before. I actually had all of my pictures from my trip across country in my BMW E24 safely in a Dropbox account. I emphasize the word safely. Three weeks of adventures across 2800 miles of everything from the Hoover Dam, Vegas, car shows, the list goes on. I was at work one day and wanted to show off pictures of the edge trimmer engine powered margarita blender and they were gone. All of the pictures gone, as if they didn’t exist. Like my past didn’t exist. I tried to explain the situation, the intensity of the crowd and the overall over-consumption of everyone around us, but it was almost impossible. Even to a person like me that can write until her fingers are blistered, it was hard for me to orate what it was like to be there at that very bizarre moment in time. While most people were probably at home watching their favorite flicks on television, I was partying with a bunch of BMW enthusiasts with an abundance of energy and no lack of excitement.
But the pictures are gone. How can I actually prove I was there at that moment? What credibility do I have without some sort of photographic evidence that I was there. My adult life has become me scratching my nails into the rock of life until my fingers bleed trying to climb to the top and see what’s over the next rock face. I’ve pushed myself to limits that some don’t understand, and probably wouldn’t even want to. Why do I do it, I’m not sure, but it sure as hell has caught up with me and it’s starting to make me wonder. When I’m dead and gone, who’s going to be there to tell my story, and at that, would anybody really even care? Is it really that interesting of a story to begin with?
“It’s a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Forever my favorite Shakespeare, only because it seems like they all went a little mad for their own reasons. I’ve tried to dig some of his other stuff, but although there is plenty of madness, it all seemed to have a little bit too much romanticism to it. Take that one about a the summertime dream (A Midsummers Night Dream), it was just too, I dunno, cheesy. Romeo and Juliet, psssshhhh, don’t get me started. For some reason, pieces like that just make me feel like they’d be taking selfies throughout the whole prose of kissing and dancing around fires and stuff. Most of those seem like they’re just a bunch of attention starved millennials looking for attention. Now MacBeth, that’s where it goes down. A bunch of narcissists that want something and will do what they will to get it. How does this relate to me losing all of my pictures? Hang tight, we’ll get to that.
Act V MacBeth – that’s what sums up the my entire philosophy of photographs of people on the internet. Obtuse, yes, but really not that much of a stretch. There was once a small subsection of people that would glance at the internet for social purposes and exchange emails that actually had context, also known as words. Expression, emotions, verbs, nouns, adjectives, an actual explanation as to what the fuck was going on in their world. I remember a time when I used to write emails to everyday to my fiancee at the time to explain what was up. I didn’t send cryptic two sentence texts, I didn’t send an awkward selfie of myself showing nothing more than I’m alive and I can take a bad picture of myself. I’d actually share how I was doing not what I was doing.
“Yet here’s a spot.”
We do it, or at least those of us that have any sort of internet contact, be it social media or not. We see something, it intrigues us, and we focus on it. I felt like my pictures that I could share on social media were almost like that spot Lady MacBeth saw. She saw it, she focused on it and was intrigued. A divergence of interest, jealousy, and in some cases loss of reality cause a black hole of the soul. Once expended on that particular “spot” you move to another and yet again you’re focused on something else with thoughts of “whoa, that’s a gorgeous wedding gown, that’s a gorgeous beach, whoa, she’s fat/skinny/pretty/successful” It it a tornado through the brain. All of these little spots get to you.
“There’s still a spot here.”
And yet we go on, diving further into the realm of the internet, and then it can bleed into our outside world. From a manic depressive person, it can be absolutely overwhelming. There are these spots everywhere. Lady Macbeth had no real spots (if you’re not up on your old time stuff like MacBeth, the spot refers to blood, which isn’t really there, it’s all in her mind. For all intensive purposes, social media is all in our minds as well. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to try to cause “spots” on my account for others to dwell upon, such as adventures that other people could never be able to be able to go on, but that sort of guilt has finally caught up to me. I’d post pictures of a carefree lifestyle where I’d drive around without being responsible and hope that other people would look at it and be jealous. I wanted it, I wanted to be the spot on someone’s brain.
Once my pictures disappeared I realized something, I was living only with a spot on my own hand, a spot of needing to be better than somebody, anybody. I wanted to post something so badly on social media for someone to be envious of, a photograph of something. Was my picture of my battleship game really going to do it? No. Could I snap a selfie and be an spot in someones life? No. Does it mean that I’m going to give up posting pictures to social media, no.
“Come out, damned spot! Out, I command you!”
I looked at one of the last couple of photos on my phone that I had taken after losing everything and saw a picture taken yesterday of my best friend since second grade and I seeing each other for the first time in ten years. It was an amazing time, I was so happy I could have and almost did cry. We both looked so happy, but I couldn’t bring myself to share it, all I saw was me looking fat and old. I looked happy, yes, but fat and old. I couldn’t let that be a spot in on someones news feed, I was too embarrassed. It became a major point of depression for me, an absolute roller coaster ride of feeling absolutely exuberant to a piece of dog turd discarded in a plastic bag along a sidewalk somewhere. Out damn spot. Why did I want to share that anyways, was it really anybody’s business that I saw a long lost pal?
“A recent ethnographic study draws a strong correlation between purposefulness and happiness. Purpose seems beneficial to overcoming substance abuse, healing from tragedy and loss, and achieving economic success.”
My pictures made me feel purposefulness, I felt like I was entertaining people and that brought me happiness, however, it never helped me with any sort of overcoming of disorders of any kind, if anything it fed them. That whole saying “anything you can do I can do better”, well, I could never do anything better than anyone, or at least that’s where my brain rests. I’ve lost everything it seems, but I’ve also gained some too. Focusing more on purposefulness is going to get me much farther than trying to amuse people with pictures of a stuffed bumble bee, me trying to look like something other than a pig in lipstick and heels and scenery that can be seen on any other search engine on the internet. I’m no google image search, I’m just a random blonde girl with a million questions and no answers.
Sitting in this hotel lobby in Denver I realize I don’t know where I belong. I’m scared, but I’m brave.