Through my 25 year career as a regional sales rep, I drove a lot of miles, as I did along with the rest of my life. I took the time one day, a couple years ago and figured out in my head a rough estimate of how many miles I have driven during the course of my life. The total I came up with was roughly 2.5 million miles. Yup! You heard me right. Two and a half million miles! From my home, wherever that was, to the store, or the vets, or the doctors, or the coast, or the mountains, or one of our favorite lakes, or Boston, or Portland, or Lubec, Skowhegan, Oquossoc, Kokadjo, Mooselookmaguntook, The Height of the Land, Campobello Island, Belfast, Old Orchard Beach, Buffalo, Kentwood Michigan, Dorr Michigan, Hamburg New York, Niagara Falls, Charlotte, Frostproof Florida, Davenport Florida, Disney World, Galusha’s Variety, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, or any hundreds of other places, the miles added up.
Between personal and work related driving, the split was just about half and half. Who’d a thunk?
From here to there, wherever I went, the scenery chased me around, and right along side were some of the most breathtaking looks at what Mother Nature has to offer. Oh my, what a sight to see. Trouble is, as the miles and years roared by, the scenery seemed to matter less and less. I guess when you grab a glance at it a few hundred times, it becomes less and less of an image, and more and more of an imaginary state of mind. I hated to see the scenery get lost in the shuffle, but that’s exactly what it did.
That is, until I bought a digital camera.
On the second day of April, way back in 2006, I experienced the gift of a lifetime. My grandson Jack was born, and with him came another uniquely different state of mind. I had become a grandfather, and I just couldn’t get enough of him. He was, after all, a part of me, and along with him came an undeniable piece of mind that I had never experienced before. I had always thought of grandparents as senior statespeople who performed as only grandparents could do. Along with my personal stereotypical grandparent vision though came other things that I wasn’t prepared for, such as the other stereotypical things like gray hair, more gray hair, old Buicks, am radio, funny smells, granola, fiber, more funny smells, twelve pairs of reading glasses, bran muffins, bran cupcakes, bran cereal, bran flavored bran, things to make you go, things to make you stop going, things that just can’t be explained, and yes, the other things that I refuse to write about.
A grandfather? Me? Are you kidding me? You sure you got the right address, or did I fall into one of those stereotypical categories and forget where I live?
And yes, here I am, a grandfather of a nine year old grandson. Well, he’ll be nine next month. Grin.
Shortly after he was born, I took a chance and dove into the modern realm of new age technology, purchasing a digital camera. I had climbed onboard the twenty first century almost a decade late, but I was onboard none the less.
Oh how that little digital camera changed my life and my world. In the first couple months alone I think I took a couple thousand pictures of my grandson. I learned how to crop and paste and sharpen and resize and manipulate the pictures I took into what I considered to be masterpieces of modern technological marvel. I used to love to get home from wherever the picture taking of my Jack Jack took place and slap the sd card into the computer, and as the pictures graced the pc screen, one by one, I realized that these instantaneous little tid bits of my day, of my present, of my future in the making were just the thing that snapped me out of my hum drum days. The hop hopped back where it belonged, the pop returned to the snap and crackle, the sugar mixed in with the spice, and my little grandson was captured forever, right there in front of me.
For the next four years, I snapped more pictures than I could ever imagine. My grandson grew and grew, and although I was having the time of my life capturing everything about him that I could, I was also reintroduced to another lost friend. As my Jack Jack picture folder grew and grew, I started realizing that this state, this wonderful, beautiful state of mine had been there all this time, waiting for me and my digital camera. Slowly and surely, I rediscovered the beauty that was flying by me every day. I took my foot off the gas pedal, and as I slowed down, I started to look again, and this new found imagery made it to my pc screen at the end of the day, one picture at a time. It was almost as if I had been reborn again, or like someone had pulled the blindfold from my unknowing state of constant daydream.
When I had vision, I used to love visiting my parents. One of the treasures included sitting down on the sofa and rummaging through boxes and boxes of pictures with my mom. Her and I would sit and look and reminisce for hours of how things used to be and who they used to be with. Boxes of small black and white pictures, you know, the ones with the little date stamp, or the ones with a penned descriptive caption on the back of the pic. Boxes of treasures, loaded with feelings, emotions and purpose. It didn’t matter if I had looked at the pictures the year before. No sir! I would sit right down and paw through the still images as though I hadn’t seen them in a lifetime.
I’m thankful that I had four years of vision with my digital camera. I’m thankful that countless hours were spent going through each and every picture that I took. I would crop and sharpen and rename the ones I saved, and the ones that I deleted? Well, I would gaze tirelessly at those before they reluctantly made the trash bin.
With those hours upon hours of sorting ,renaming, resizing, doctoring and cradling thousands of digital delights, I was unaware that I was building a mental photo album that would grace my memory, for what I’m hoping is a very, very long time. I can still see the rivers, the mountains, the winding roads through the amazing country side, the smiles, the colors, the fascinating changing of the seasons and of course, the incredible poses of my one and only grandson, Jack. His first four years captured a place in my heart and mind that will be with me until the day I die. A gift like that can never, ever possess a price tag, because it is absolutely priceless.
One picture at a time. That seems to be how I work my way through my days, these days, and each snapshot holds a memory of how things used to be. I suppose that no matter how much time goes by, the present will exist as it did in my mind, my past, my experiences, and from the pictures that I have seen and taken.
I’ve always loved taking pictures. I fell in love with it from 2006 to 2010. I will never give back those amazing times, those amazing trips, those incredible moments in history.
In my history.
The digital mileage seemed to pile up pretty quick in four years. From Rockland, to Rockwood, from West Quoddy, to the Western Mountains of Maine, from a family named Lyons, to a grandson named Jack, it’s all there, and it’s all mine.
Do me a favor? Go get yourself some of your own, ok?