This I Believe

Stephanie - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on July 21, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Darling, It’s Incredible

I believe that life is a series of snapshots. I take my camera everywhere, just in case life happens. Pictures are proof that life can be perfect, even if it’s just long enough for my flash to go off. I believe that an entire roll of bad shots is worth that one perfect exposure at the end of the negatives—I have a deep drawer in the bottom of my dresser devoted to the snapshots I take, both the bad and the perfect. I believe most of all that the life I don’t transfer to film can be perfect too, and it is those perfect moments—those snapshots—that make the whole thing worthwhile. I am blessed to have a huge cache of those perfect moments that are not on film. I am amazed that I can recall each in exact detail and that they affect me more than the images I have on paper.

I can remember dancing on the sidewalk outside my high school band room to Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” when I was sixteen years old—right there, on the sidewalk, in my jeans and t-shirt with half the high school band watching. I remember the last time I ever saw my friend Emily—at a practice for our church softball team—and I do a double take every time I see a girl with short, blonde, curly hair. I laugh every time I make microwave smores because I am then confronted by thoughts of my best friend Hailey and all of our adventures—one of my favorites is her impersonation of a pirate. On any lazy summer day, I remember my favorite first moment of summer—I spent it with my dear friend Casey as we drank coffee on the edge of a pond and named a turtle Henry David in honor of the brilliant man who wrote Walden.

I’ve come to realize that those perfect moments—those beautiful, serendipitous, “unforgettable in every way,” time- and heart-stopping moments—are the most valuable. I usually don’t get to capture those on film, and I often forget about them until the scent of melted chocolate or the sound of a metal bat hitting a softball brings me back to a shimmering moment of a time long past. I have come to believe that I have to live in such a way as to allow those blink-or-you’ll-miss-them instances to capture me and make me so dizzy with joy that I can’t help but wear one of those cheesy grins that always manage to show up in family photos.

I take my camera everywhere, just in case life happens. Of course, I probably won’t have any film the next time vibrant, sparkling, “fully awake” life comes my way, but since I smile every time Nat King Cole comes on the radio, I’ll still have a beautiful photo album at the end of the day.