I always wondered if it was an innate biological need to document things, that ultimately leads people to write books, blogs or take a million photographs and post them on Instagram. I suppose some of us feel if we don’t document the event, then maybe it never really happened? That people won’t believe we hiked the Grand Canyon or jumped out of an airplane unless there’s photographic proof. It’s the old ‘tree in the forest’ thing, right? If no one was there to hear the tree fall, did it really fall? And better yet, did it even exist? And if it did exist and it did fall, did anyone even care?
Well, that escalated quickly.
People who know me probably aren’t surprised I went right into the deep sea of ‘life’s purpose’ within the very first paragraph. I’m an introvert whose thoughts run pretty deep.
A few years ago someone I considered a friend called me ‘standard.’ I’m certain that in my 33 years I’ve been called much worse, so why did that one stick? I’d say most of us are pretty damn standard, so it shouldn’t have bothered me, but I think at the root we all want to be unique, different and special in some way.
Of course, I will blame my parents for this affliction, who lovingly told me from an early age that I’m special (the nerve, right?). That I surely have something unique to offer the world and if I work hard enough, I will make an impact in one way or another. Well, the brutal reality is there are some 7.4 billion of us on this planet whose parents are telling them that exact same thing. Shocking! So ok. The numbers confirm that yes, I’m standard. I’m predictable. I’m just another one of those girls that wears glasses and loves sushi and knits and does yoga and goes hiking and of course, loves cats.
So maybe he was right. Maybe I am the standard girl with the standard Instagram feed, who has a standard life, who feels the need to document it so that when I fall in the forest, you’ll all know what forest I was in and what I was wearing and eating when it happened.
Someone once told me 100 years after you die, no one will remember you unless you were famous or made some huge impact on society. Although incredibly depressing, I can’t help but agree with that observation. How many times have you been to a garage sale and sifted through old black and white photographs, wondering ‘who the hell are these people and what was their story?’
Each and every one of those people had families and lives and probably did at least one amazing thing in their life, and now they’re sitting in the bulk bin, selling for a penny each. I suppose that will be all of us one day – just a face in a photo with a standard story that no one knows – but not even, because no one prints photos anymore!
So maybe that’s what all this social media blogging, incessant picture taking and documentation is all about—the need to prove we existed and that the things we did were somewhat meaningful to someone, somewhere even if only for a hot minute.
Maybe it’s only a blip on the radar and only in the most standard of ways that we were important to someone, at some time, in some capacity.
But then again, maybe we are someone’s Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein. Maybe that one thing we did or said made a very important ripple in someone’s small pond. Although we won’t be written into the history books, maybe that little water ripple helped someone change direction or turn over a new leaf. So…shouldn’t that be enough?
Now that I’ve properly depressed everyone, I’ll admit the truth – I am an incessant documenter. I take a million pictures. I post a multitude of cat pics on Instagram. And I feel compelled to write. It clears my head of the thoughts that rumble around inside at all hours of the day. But most of all, it allows me to get out on paper what I can’t seem to say to others in person.
So, I’ll dedicate this entire writing experience to myself (the tree in the forest) and my two hilarious nephews, James and Evan, in hopes that I may make a few small ripples in their pond. And to all the standard girls out there who have the desire to share their innermost thoughts, but are too terrified to do so. I’ll take one for the team. And to Pirate, my cat, who has witnessed me do some awesome things on a daily basis for the last fourteen years, but doesn’t have the ability to verbally express it to the world – yet.