In a time when answers to all our questions are virtually at our fingertips in a matter of seconds (thank you google and all the awesome online resources!), we might mistakenly think all our problems are also solved in a matter of seconds. Of course we know all our problems can’t be solved with bullet points-don’t we?
When Bullet Points Aren’t Enough
We live in a time of bullet points and sound bites. I love the social media posts with inspirational quotes, beautiful pictures and easy access to questions. As with every society, we go through cycles, and one aspect of our current cycle is one of immediate gratification. The trade off: we lose the rich connection with one another, and it is these connections we crave and require for a fulfilling life. Yes, deep connection with one another is essential! Facts are important, but the context in which things happen is what we yearn for.
For my upcoming book, “Just See Me-Sacred Stories from the Other Side of Dementia,” I got to know 13 family caregivers who care for their loved ones with dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease. I knew their stories of love, devotion, challenge and triumph could change the world. My first request to families was “Tell me what you think the world needs to know.” People had no problem determining the details of their story. This surprised me because I would have some problems choosing what to talk about. They knew what needed to be said, and I respect them so much for this. Immediately after our visit, families told me how emotionally exhausting yet relieving it was to openly share their truths. In some instances I met with the entire family and others I met individually. Often times the person with dementia contributed to the story. I followed up about a year later, and repeatedly heard the following 3 things:
- It felt very good for them to share their stories.
- They loved the idea of their loved one being memorialized.
- The portraits I took of them became priceless treasures AND this was a surprise to them. They didn’t think having images would mean so much to them. Oh, the power of photography!
What About the Difficult Times?
Every time of our lives is important and worthy of documentation-even the hard times. In fact, when we look back at the most challenging periods of our lives there is a sense of gliding through. These are the moments when I feel as if I’m floating in water, but just the smallest tap will push me under enough where I won’t be able to get a breath. Therefore, I simply get by. Having a way to look back at these junctions helps to give structure and yes, depth to our lives. Invariably we learn about ourselves and others, and this is important enough to preserve for future generations.