It’s been bothering me, this feeling. This nagging conviction that I need to check a specific thing off my to-do list. I don’t often get the feeling, but when I do ignoring it always leads to regret. If I want to get all spiritual with it, it’s not too far-fetched to label it the Holy Spirit.
My missionary mother-in-law once told me that over the years she’s learned that the Spirit is that still small voice that often sounds like your own thoughts thinking. And over the years she’s learned not to argue with it. Like when it says “You should carry some extra Nairas into the market today” she wouldn’t tell it “No, that’s not necessary.” Or when on furlough, walking through the mall and the voice said “You should probably buy an extra pair of shoes for your son” she wouldn’t correct her own thoughts with “He just got a new pair, he’ll be fine until the next time we come back.”
Because she’s learned the hard way that the voice knows what it’s talking about. A Christian brother will need a few dollars in the market. The son will hit a growth spurt and need shoes sooner than expected. So she trusts the Holy Spirit dressed up as her own intuition when an idea pops into her head that doesn’t make perfect sense.
So this voice, my voice, has been nagging me for weeks (months? years?) now. “Back up your freaking pictures”, it says, with a hint of annoyance and a touch of desperation. And it’s finally gotten under my skin just enough that I’m spending (literal) days sorting and saving digital pictures.
Hours and hours and hours of looking at every digital picture I’ve taken in 8 years. Hundreds of baby pictures, countless family trips, a handful of moves. So much history.
Mostly I’ve just been deleting. Pictures that couldn’t be reduced 5 years ago are cut without a thought now. If our nomadic ways have taught me anything it’s that we need much less than we think we do. I don’t need a picture of every present my Nine Year Old opened for every birthday he ever had. I need about 5 pictures from that whole day. A good one with the cake, one with other family members in it, one with the best present, and maybe a couple extra for good measure.
But despite my lack of sentimentality, combing through visual archives is not without nostalgia. Four things in particular have been impressed on my conscious during my stroll down memory lane.
- We forget so quickly. I’m shocked and delighted every time I stumble upon an old video clip. I’ve forgotten my babies, completely forgotten them. Their little voices and mannerisms, they’ve gotten lost in a sea of present day dealings and frustrations with the children that stand before me. Note to self: Take more videos of your kids.
- I was a much more present mom before this Social Media thing went, ahem, viral. Note to self: Set and keep stricter work hours.
- I looked freaking fabulous all those years I thought I didn’t. Note to self: Lose weight. And/or accept the fabulousness of where you are, wherever you are.
- Listen to the still small voice that tells you to back up your pictures. Because seriously.
In exactly two weeks we start our (newest) cross-country move, more than 4,000 miles of rubber to burn. I won’t be surprised if our ancientest laptop doesn’t survive the trip, the one that all those pictures have been haphazardly stored on the last few years.
But they’re safe now. Like I said, I’ve learned not to argue with the voices in my head.