Monday, November 10, 2014

The end of bad photos

I used to cringe when I'd see pictures of me from races or group runs. Somehow I always managed to look like a lumpy zombie. But then I met Pete. And he loves taking what I would call "terrible" pictures of me. Pictures where I'm driving or otherwise unaware I'm being photographed, pictures where my eyes are closed or I'm making a weird face. His phone is filled with them. I'd complain about how awful they were and he'd say something like "They're not bad, they're beautiful." At first I wanted to delete them but over time I sort of became inured to them. And then I started thinking, well what exactly is the criteria by which I judge a photo of me to be 'bad?' If I look particularly moribund or muffin-toppy? If I don't conform to the narrow definition of beauty depicted in the popular media? Why am I wasting my time and energy on this malarkey? They are simply snapshots of a specific moment in time. It's only my judgment of them that makes them "bad" or "good."

I can't change the photos. They are reality. That is what I looked like at that moment. But I can change my judgment of them. I can change my definition of beauty, I can expand it to be all-encompassing. If you ask Mr. Merriam-Webster, he will tell you that beauty is defined as:

The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives
pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit;
loveliness; a brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or instance.  
By that definition, virtually every moment is beautiful. Especially those moments where I'm running or enjoying the company of friends, the occasions which typically end up being photographed. Those moments are pleasurable, brilliant and lovely. And the moments we're running are usually pretty extreme, either in weather or duration or monkey business. Photographs are the physical evidence of these beautiful moments. They are not perfect, but they are real. And real is far more interesting.

This is a photo taken by Prem (middle name: Awesome) during the group run at Letchworth on Saturday.

(Apparently I can run with my eyes closed, which will come in handy if I ever need to nap mid-run.) I could point out all the things I dislike about the way I look in this photo. But I won't. Because it was a beautiful run on a beautiful day with some beautiful souls I am lucky enough to know. And when I look at this picture, that's all I want to see. Because adventure is about getting your wings dirty (as Danielle says, it's better to be a dirty angel than a clean angel), it's about getting out of your perfectly coiffed/perfectly posed comfort zone, it's about being fully alive and all that entails - the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's all beautiful.

I am declaring this day the end of bad photos. Wherever we are and whatever we're doing in photos and in life, there is love and joy and awesomeness to be found. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Lyric of the moment: "Do you realize, that you have the most beautiful face? Do you realize, we're floating in space? Do you realize, that happiness makes you cry? Do you realize, that everyone you know someday will die? And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realize that life goes fast. It's hard to make the good things last. You realize the sun doesn't go down. It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round..."

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