This parade of photos switches out one of the eight-or-nine images every three seconds or so—just enough time to remember the happy in the photo and not enough time to mull what might be sadder. Photos of the departed flash up long enough to feel the joy of seeing them again but short enough to avoid the tears. This magical screen-of-my-life fits curiously with an ancient conceit of mine.
You see, in high school I was certain that I was SO important that there was some magical recording angel who captured everything I saw or did and he/she would somehow, ultimately, on my command, play back any chosen event for my reminiscences. Such was the narcissism of a seventeen-year-old.
But in a curious sense, this screensaver IS the playback of my life. (I also was curious how I would be the first-ever immortal, but that’s another story.) As these photos flash by, I see me and my friends long ago when all our possibilities were in play. I know now how a lot of the stories ended, but I didn’t then. It seems strange to think of all the doors which could have opened—and which ones actually did.
I find myself talking to my earlier self, issuing warnings and wondering what might have been if. . . well, just if. I see losing my best friend from college over my stupid comment about his fiancée. I see Grandma who did all she could to encourage my artistic side. (Thanks Grandma). I see my best high school friend mugging for the camera before heading to Northwestern U. for some mistakes I would now warn him about, but I was clueless then.
There before me parades visual evidence of the joys and catastrophes which made me me. But what made me a sculptor? The sculpture door opened later in my life and no earlier photos even hint at it. Still I am who I am because of these memories and, ever the sculptor now, I wonder how this path shows itself in my art.
I seek joy in my sculpture. I believe heaven is right here on earth and all who seek beauty will find it. Amateur psychologists might assume this compensates for some deep grievance or depravation in my past. But no, no prison time or sad affairs or personal catastrophes form my worldview. I had some medium bumps growing up, but some medium-to-large joys to go with them.
My best theory (and you are welcome to take a shot too) rises from my teenage conceit that I was so special the path would clear before me and my only duty is gratitude. As I age, I see I am not so special, but the path did clear, and Lordy, I am grateful. And I get to sculpt.