02 Jun 50
Today is my 50th birthday. This is my baby spoon. It’s sterling. The front records the day, year and time I arrived screaming into this world. The back notes my birth weight, 7 lbs, 6 oz. Needless to say I’ve gained a fair amount of weight since then. I find the spoon’s accuracy fascinating. I was born at 9:08 AM, not 9:00 or even 9:10. The big hand hovers dutifully just above the 10 minute dot, not resting on it lazily. Few things in my life these days are that precise, but 50 years ago, someone took the time to a) spell my name right and b) fine-tune the details. Things went downhill from there, but we started out on a good foot.
I had hoped to post something profound and special in honour of what everyone tells me is a milestone. Some sparkling flash of insight I’ve gleaned over the past half century. But I haven’t learned anything that hasn’t been said already or better by Erma Bombeck, Albert Einstein, or Grumpy Cat. After half a century of life you’d think I can come up with something more helpful than “Always put the toilet seat down,” and “I had liver pâté once. It was awful.”
I’ve actually had liver pâté more than once. It was equally awful each time. But I digress.
Despite writing and rewriting this post dozens of times over the last few days, I found I had nothing to say that wasn’t cliché, or preachy. Or both.
Or so I thought until yesterday. Even then, the best I can offer is an observation.
Yesterday, I spent the day with my best friend. At lunch, she handed me a lovely card and then pulled out an envelope. Inside were photos of of us together over the years, organized in chronological order. The photo sizes changed along with our hair styles and the cut of our jeans. The ’80s have a lot of explaining to do, but we seemed oblivious to our fashion crimes. The pictures began with my graduation from the University of Guelph more than 25 years ago and included parties, vacations, day-trips, my wedding (10 years ago), her wedding (8 years ago)… and then they stopped. No more photos.
Everyone had switched to digital.
It was as if we hadn’t seen each other in 8 years.
I’m not telling you to get rid of your digital cameras. I’m not saying stop Intsagramming or uploading to Flickr. I’m just saying that even though we can take pictures on our phones and share them with people half way around the world in seconds, real things still serve a purpose in this world. Real things clutter our lives, but some are worth keeping.
Cherry pick a few. Just a few. Tuck them into albums, stuff them under a bed or pack them into a box on the top shelf of the garage. You’ll be glad you did. The tangibles will outlast hard drive crashes, technology changes and accidental deletion. Sure, my baby spoon turns black with oxidation and needs polishing now and again, but it’s survived numerous moves and years in my junk drawer getting knocked about by coffee spoons and pickle forks. Yes, paper photos fade, can be burned, and smear when you spill coffee on them — I know of what I speak on this last point. But 25 years from now, what will happen to the Instagram shot I took yesterday as we headed into the spa for the afternoon?
I’ll tell you when I’m 75.