Illusion and Reality

‘Pleasure may come from illusion, but happiness can only come from reality.’

Yesterday Ajay came home from school with a big blank poster that needed to be filled in. It was his turn to be ‘student of the week, ‘and when you are 8 years old, this is a very big deal. He was excited to complete the project but as we sat down last night to help him do it a big problem became immediately apparent.

In the center of the poster was a sizable space that said ‘Me and my Family’ – where a recent family photo was to be placed. Well in our family, we quit using anything but our cell phone cameras years ago, so both my husband and I quickly started perusing our pictures.  We both had somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000 photos to choose from.

Before I go any further, let me give you a little bit of background here. We are a family of five- my husband and I, our 23 year old son, our 22 year old daughter, and of course the caboose of our clan, 8 year old Ajay. As a family of five we spend an inordinate amount of time together. The older kids live away from our home but they are always on our coach, or on the phone with us, and we are all forever texting one another about the minutia of life.

We never go more than a few days without being together. For example, almost every single Sunday for the past decade, we have spent the afternoon together and shared dinner. Rain or shine, we all show up for family dinner on Sunday (my Mom and Dad also partake in this weekly tradition.) All of this togetherness is no small task- we lead busy lives, our older children are working and going to school, socializing, finding themselves, etc. No matter- we find the time to be together.  Between the four of us on our phones, we  have over 10,000 pictures. Pictures of some of us, oodles of pictures with most of us, a fair amount of pictures with all of us plus extra people, but not one dang recent picture of the five of us alone. (We ended up using the two year old shot that you see in today’s graphic- taken by someone else at a workplace retreat.)

In this age of social media overload, where millions of people spend more time documenting the ‘perfection’ of their lives rather than living it, I have to say I got a little bit of a sick thrill knowing that we had no photos…. NOT ONE!… and it’s not because we are an out of touch family- its not because we are lacking in time spent together. We have just been so busy with living it, we haven’t stopped along the way to document it for anyone else.  (The most ironic part of all, was that we couldn’t even get together for a quick pic for the project because – as I shared with readers a few weeks ago, our daughter, for the first time in her life, is living in a distant city for the next 10 weeks.)

My to do list this week includes placing a call to our family portrait guy to set up an appointment for a family photo session once our daughter returns to town.  When we move to our new home in the fall it will be wonderful to place an updated portrait above the mantle. And with the help of lighting and a few other tricks… our life in that still shot will probably look flawless. That’s a fine image to frame and put on the wall, but don’t let it fool you. Our world has the same hardships as everyone else’s- but warts and all, happiness still always finds us at the end of the day.

In the meantime, I think I won’t worry too much about the lack of photographic evidence to our existence. Instead, we will just continue to keep the posing to a minimum, focusing instead, on the moments…sharing time and making the sort of memories that don’t come with a glossy finish, but still end up carved on our hearts forever. <3

Pleasure may come from illusion, but happiness can only come from reality.