"I don't want ever to be a man," he said with passion. "I want always to be a little boy and to have fun."
- J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
When I was little, one of my favorite places to visit was the library. Every week, I'd ride my bike over and check out all the fairy tales and fantasies I could. The pile, as I waited, would tower above my head and barely zipper into the red backpack my parents gave me on my eighth birthday. My favorite stories were the ones with beautiful illustrations and wild adventures (Peter Pan, with illustrations by Scott Gustafson was in my Top 10). Many nights, I fell asleep far after my bedtime by the light of a reading lamp.
Books were portals into other possibilities, and I was obsessed with this. But as I got older, I read less books. I wondered less about other worlds. It's not that I lost it altogether, there were just... other things to wonder about. How to pay rent. How to build a career. How to be a mother and raise my children. Just as Wendy did, to Peter Pan's dismay - I grew up.
But there's a silver lining. When Peter returns to find Wendy a grown woman, he takes her daughter back to Neverland, instead. It's a beautiful metaphor for life, really. How we wish we could hold onto each of these precious moments - 'to always be little and to have fun'. How we smile, wistfully, when we get to watch our children do it all over again. Life happens so quickly. It's here, and then it's gone, and there's so little time in the middle to savor the sweetest moments. When I remember that my life on earth is finite, I find myself asking, what am I investing in? What do you want to remember? What do you want to hold on to and pass on? The day you said, "I do"? The way your child looked at you when they were born? Have you been working to get in shape, or are you celebrating an anniversary, and want to commemorate it?
I always wanted to help people. At face-value, photography may seem like an odd way to do that. But I mean it when I say that's my goal. There's nothing more fulfilling than when a client thanks me for seeing them the way they want - need, even - to be seen. When I've heard them, understood them, and helped them share themselves in a meaningful way. After all, isn't this what everyone really wants? To be seen? To be known, and understood? So many of us are reaching for that feeling. I've always felt like photography gives people the opportunity to show more than what's visible to the eye. It allows us to hold onto a memory of who, and what, we are. It permits us to grow and to change, with the reassurance that the memories of where we came from will always be waiting for us, if we want them.
We may never return to Neverland. But the pastel Lagoon and the vibrant home of the Lost Boys will be our fond memory as we rock our little ones to sleep. We lived beautiful lives in a story full of wild adventure. And if we're lucky, we have photos to remember it by.
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