QC Blog: November 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dreams May Die

It's been a long year.  My grand-nephew James was born at the beginning of the year, bringing great joy and happiness to all our family. We celebrated birthdays and christenings, and vacationed in Stone Harbor/Avalon in New Jersey.  Sadly, in October, Mark's mom, Louise, passed away.  Although she had some medical problems, it was unexpected and difficult.  Family is so important at times like that.  We felt wrapped in the love from our families.  I am so awed by the unexpected kindnesses that came from different portions of our family.  I love you all.

Even though it's been exactly a year since we were in France, it seems like a lifetime ago. How fast things fade from your memory!  Death has a way of readjusting all your priorities.  When clearing away all the things that one accumulates in a lifetime, you keep asking - what is really important in my life?  What are the things that define me?  What are the things that matter?  What do I want my kids to think is important enough not to throw into a box and give to a charity?  Is my life so cluttered, they would never be able to find the important things?

All the things I've been putting off sorting, getting rid of, donating, and selling, I'm doing it now.

I've made an interesting discovery in the process.  I love photography.  Once upon a time I had a dream.  I've wanted a darkroom since I was about 16 years old.  I always felt like a real photographer when I was in the darkroom.  When I got married, every birthday and Christmas present for about 3 years was a piece to complete my darkroom.  I bought the enlarger with great care and family members would buy different pieces - the trays, the squeeges, the thermometers, the developing tanks, the safelights. My 3 year old nephew suggested he could buy me a light for my darkroom, so that I could see :)  My first darkroom in Baltimore was in our basement, on a board that was mounted over the washer and dryer when not in use. 

After moving back to Pittsburgh, my father-in-law built me a darkroom in our house.  It had a door, it was a real room.  It had two counters, and a light fixture for the safelight, with a special light switch, to turn off the safelight and turn on the white light, replicating the darkroom I worked in at my high school, when I was Photography Editor of the yearbook.  But my children were little and I didn't have a lot of time to work in it, but I still had the dream.  I showed my niece and nephew how to make a sunprint and used the darkroom to develop the print.  I printed some photos of my oldest son that I had taken in b&w.  I kept telling myself that there would be time soon for me to work in the darkroom.

When we moved to our present house in 1995 and finished the basement, I made sure we built another darkroom, exactly like the one my FIL had built for me in our old house.  I was still determined to find the time to get into the darkroom. I bought chemicals and developed some film.  Soon, I kept telling myself.

Shortly after that, the world went digital.  People could print photos at home.  Adobe created Lightroom - a computer darkroom.  I got my own digital camera when I started doing virtual tours.  As the years went by, I realized I enjoyed using the computer to play with photos.  In the last year, I've begun to admit to myself that maybe I should get rid of my darkroom, but I was afraid to say it out loud, afraid I was giving up.  When I did, the world didn't end.  There was no earthquake.  And my heart didn't break.

I did an inventory last week of all my darkroom equipment, having made up my mind to get rid of it.  It's not worth much these days.  I realized that the enlarger is still wrapped in the same plastic bag that I put on it when I moved it 15 years ago.  I haven't opened it since we moved.

What was I waiting for?   Somehow, having the dream and achieving the dream are not the same thing.  Time has just passed by and what was once my largest dream has changed with time. Spending the time with my children when they were little was more important than spending that time in my darkroom.  Letting go of my darkroom does not mean I do not love photography, or that I don't want to develop photos.  I am just changing the way I do it.  Changing with the times, using the technology of the decade.  I really didn't miss anything, and getting rid of my stuff will not make me less of a photographer. I will survive without the stuff. 

"...There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them."
                                                                                                                                                 Jim Croce

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