Life is, among other things, a series of real-life vignettes that are played over in our minds, after the fact. It is our interpretation of these cameos that influences what our life looks like, in living colour.
Last night, I was talking to my husband about our marriage, and he commented that he has many pictures in his mind of the good times we have shared. He could flashback to the times when life was actually falling into place, and things were going smoothly. Let me paint for you a scene that could easily be one such vignette: I can remember our second anniversary. Lately, it has popped into my mind more than once, and that is alarming because it encapsulates a memory that happened over fourteen years ago.
And so I ask…why this memory? Why a memory that occurred so long ago?
Nevertheless, it is in my mind for a reason. I remember it like it was yesterday, a sunny, but cool July day. A brisk breeze blown in from the Gulf of the St. Lawrence made goose bumps on my flesh, and I kept a blanket pulled around my shoulders as a barrier from the cold ocean spray that pounded the red cliffs just beneath our picnic spot. We took several pictures of ourselves on this day, with a camera that took pictures on film. Imagine that in today’s digital world! Each picture was viewed first through the view finder and carefully we posed for the shoot. It seemed time stood still, and of course it does when you take a photograph. We thought we had found a little piece of paradise there on that seashore. I remember walking down the side of a craggy slope, baby steps all the way, afraid that I might slip on the slippery seaweed that covered the rugged, clammy boulders. We walked a great distance, until we rounded a jut, and slipped through a rocky enclosure, only to find that there were more rocks and cliffs beyond our reach.
After our trek to the furthest point possible by foot, we returned to our initial location to rest and enjoy time together. The frigid air brought us closer, and our arms were heat in lieu of the sun. We snapped another picture of ourselves that day, perched as we were on the edge of a sandstone cliff, frozen in time as a forever young, couple of lovebirds. So it was, and still is, in my memory. A vignette of our life together.
There are many such vignettes that I can recall. Time has a way of allowing you to look back with rose-coloured glasses. We remember the good times, and overlook the unpleasant periods in time that can sometimes overshadow the enjoyable.
For most of my married life, I have chosen to look at life as “glass half-empty.” It takes some humility to admit this, as it does not paint a very flattering picture of me within the setting of these cameos. I am not an optimist, nor am I an idealist. I am very much a realist, and sometimes even a pessimist. That has been my natural course over the time we have been married. As water wears down and erodes, so do angry thoughts and resentment. Over time, I have become a whittled down version of my former self, weather-beaten and windswept by the tides and swells of bitterness. There is much in my life to be thankful for, but I often choose to resist gratitude. There is much in my life to appreciate, but I many times focus on the negative.
If you were to go back to the above vignette that I have depicted and take another look, you would find flaws in this idyllic scene. I am sure that it was not as romantic, on my part, as I have portrayed it in this blog. I do remember an adoring husband, but I also remember an uptight wife. I am sure that we had tension between us, even in the serenity of this place, because I know myself, and tension follows me like a shadow. I am sure that I was not as loving as I could have been to the one who held my heart. I was fearful back then, and that fear came between us. Even in that warm embrace, on that jagged landscape. These memories, both the good and the bad, shape my interpretation of this vignette, and that interpretation is now suspended in my mind on delicate webs of nostalgia.
As I write, I am able to look at the vignettes of which I now play a part and take on a predominate role. I am the lead actor in the story of my life. It is I who chooses the way I will interpret the events I am given to live out, in my day-to-day life. I am ultimately the one who will shape the character I have been given to play.
And so, it is with humility and humour that I will tell the stories of my life. Knowing this, that these vignettes are not all picture perfect realities, but scenes in which I am called to breathe life into my cameo and make this life as wonderful and hopeful and funny as is humanly possible. It is not the circumstances that we have power over, it is the attitude with which we approach these circumstances wherein lies the difference.