I have been fascinated and greatly inspired by the portraits, pictures and photographs other people have taken and posted on-line over the holidays. A slew of pictures came across my Facebook feed over the past couple of weeks with beautiful pictures of homes and décor, along with gorgeous family pictures and portraits of beautiful children dressed up in Christmas finery. I was so inspired by these photographs that I thought I would set out to take and post some pictures of my own.
But when I started to look around my home and then focused my gaze through the undiscriminating eye of the lens, I was continually frustrated by what I was seeing. My snapshots of our home did not look as picture-perfect as those I had witnessed in other photographs. Nor were my family photographs as full of character and winsome charm. The red eye/alien eye was annoying and the sharpness contrast was not as defined as I would have liked it. And sometimes there were even things in the pictures I did not want there. Like plastic bags that would appear as if from nowhere. And those green extension cords to power candles, where does one tuck them away neatly? A picture on the wall was often askew. And the poor, forsaken angel on my tree was leaning a bit too far to the front. Ready to topple on top of an unsuspecting child looking for a forgotten toy that might have happened to still be under the tree. And there were other odds and ends that made the pictures less than perfect, serving to add to my frustration with what I was viewing through the truth of my camera lens.
As if this wasn’t enough to keep me down, I decide to try to take some pictures outside. In natural light. What could possibly go wrong? I organize the children and Darling Husband together for a snowman-building project. As soon as things get going, one child has already pummeled another child in the face with snow, while I run around trying to capture everyone in some sort of artistic impression of a snowy afternoon of fun. As the afternoon wears on, the kids become bored or cranky and the numbers gradually dwindle. Leaving me no choice but to put down the camera and pitch in. Meanwhile, the snowman is coming along nicely. We have him at about 7 ½ feet high, with two black paint can covers for his eyes, rose hips for his smile and the traditional carrot nose. Hydrangea buttons and two twig arms topped off the remainder of his extremities, and I “borrow” Husband’s fur-lined ear-flap hat that he bought as a souvenir in Europe. To keep Mr. Snowman’s head warm.
Things are just about ready for the big photo shoot. I convince the One in the house to “please” come out, and I round up the rest of the troops. And then I call Husband to grab the camera from the front passenger side of the van, while I run back to arrange everything.
The scene is just about perfect. Never mind the fact that everything has fallen apart mid-snowman assembly. All that matters is the picture. The kids are placed strategically around the snowman, and I quickly look back at Brian as I call out for him to take the picture. When I look back again at the kids, I am horrified to see that the snowman is leaning. It is most definitely leaning. Then, it is no longer leaning…it is falling. Falling, pell-mell. Run for cover! And in a sudden rush, snow begins to fall in an avalanche as I scream for the kids to, “RUN!” Littlest One narrowly missing the snowman’s belly landing on her head. Snow falling everywhere. Kids crying. I am awe-struck. Husband stands in disbelief, his camera still ready to shoot. And so he does. And this is the prize picture he took.
Life is not about taking the perfect picture. It is about the big picture. And the smaller ones that define and describe who and what we are. Husband said to me, after the snowman fell, “He’s just like all of us. Falling apart and getting re-built bigger and better again.” And I agree. Our family life is all about that and then some. Falling down and getting back up again. A million and one times. Life is all about the moments that pictures cannot ever capture. It is about both the perfect and imperfect moments that are the real deal outside the lens. Not necessarily what’s always seen through the lens. Rather, the best pictures are those seen with the naked eye through the lens of the heart.