A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Kenna - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: legacy

I believe in scrapbooks. To me, scrapbooking is more than just a way to haphazardly put together boxes upon boxes of dusty photos to get them out of the closet. It’s a connection to the past that enables us to grow, the door to an infinite number of memories, the sweet sting of a million different emotions felt in earlier times.

I believe in the joy that making a scrapbook brings. I’ve spent countless hours pouring over thousands of pictures, carefully selecting those I want to put together to represent my past. Each action I make begins to create a story, the story I’ll remember whenever I look back. A heart encircling one face, a vicious “X” through another, groups of friends, family reunions. Each placement of a picture requires meticulous reflection on the day it was taken, the people in it, the memories it holds.

I believe a picture represents a moment better than any number of words can. When I looked back at a picture of my best friend and me atop a rock-climbing wall 6 years ago, I realized how much I’d changed since our days of braces, frizzy hair, puffy blue vests, and tie-dye bellbottoms. I felt a sting of nostalgia as I remembered how carefree we’d been, our huge grins held only pure joy. Feelings of longing for those innocent times mingle with amazement at who I’d grown into since then. Looking at scrapbooks helps me remember my past, rejoice in my greatest moments, such as climbing the wall and learn from my mistakes. (Tie-dye bellbottoms???)

Going through old scrapbooks, a wave of emotions and nostalgia rolls in that reminds me of who I was, the memories I experienced, the people I experienced them with. I travel back through the adventures of my adolescence, the innocence of my childhood, the sweetness of my babyhood I can only remember through pictures. Some photos are from my easier days, and they remind me to enjoy and appreciate life instead of taking it so seriously. Some are from days all I wanted to do was disappear forever, and they remind me that no matter how terrible I feel, those feelings do not last forever.

Yes, scrapbooks are a form of entertainment—laughter at crazy outfits, sweet smiles at a memory of a blissful day, embarrassment from crossed eyes or triple chins. But they are more than that—they bring substance to our pasts, they are vivid markers our progress as we continue to grow, as we march toward our futures they are colorful reminders of where we came from and who we were.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. If so, then a scrapbook is like a novel—a carefully composed autobiography that represents the author’s life as he wants it to be viewed. I believe in scrapbooks, as objects that enable us to learn about ourselves, as objects that we can enjoy unfailingly forever, and as objects that are the truest preservations of our pasts.