The picture of organization
2018 is well underway and I have not yet broken any resolutions. That could be because I haven’t made any. Well, that’s not quite true—I did make a promise to myself which, in many respects, bears resemblance to a resolution. I’m not convinced that achieving this goal is entirely possible. After all, I have been making this same pledge to myself for the past five years, and even though I have been working on it (albeit sporadically), I am still a long way from completion. Could this be the year that I finally reach my goal?
You might be thinking, “What could be so difficult? Weight loss? Daily exercise? Never getting upset with my husband?” Oh, it’s bigger than that – much bigger. I need to finally, completely, and irrevocably organize my vast collection of photos that we have accumulated over the past 45 years.
It’s not as if I haven’t tried or haven’t put significant effort into the task. The book case is lined with albums and boxes containing photos. The problem is creating some sort of an organizational system that works best for easy location and access of photos. That sounds simple enough, but consider that pictures can be organized in so many ways – by subject matter, by persons, by date – and you will understand my dilemma. Plus it’s difficult to predict which will work best for future reference.
Just when I think I have figured out the best way to catalogue my memories, someone comes along asking for a particular picture and the hunt is on. Before long the floor is covered with albums but the requested photo seems to have vanished. So much for my foolproof system!
After years of trying to properly catalogue and organize our photos, I have come to some realizations. Most notably, I have accepted that many of my photos might never be in the correct chronological order. I can’t begin to explain the embarrassment of not knowing whether your own child is three or four years old in a photo, but if it’s a birthday shot, I just hope I can count the candles on the cake.
I have also learned a few helpful hints along the way. When we travel I now take a photo of any informational sign which will help identify the site or at least the country where it was taken. Because even though I think I will remember, I most likely won’t. A good example of this was travelling through Germany and trying to keep the towns of Regensburg, Nuremburg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Rothenburg straight, especially when they all look the same.
I would also advise using three ring binders when filing your photos. This allows for easy relocation of pictures because nothing is more frustrating than completing an entire album of Christmases 1996, 1997, and 1998, only to discover some wayward photos from 1996 making a sudden and unexpected appearance after you are done. At least with removable pages you don’t have to start from the beginning again. (That has happened far too often for this gal.)
I know that most young people in this age of iPads and iPhones will not understand my dilemma. But those of you of a more mature age will, no doubt, empathize with me, unless you happen to be one of those carefree souls who didn’t worry about taking any photos. In many ways, I envy you.
But alas, I am not one of those folks, so while the snow flies and the temperatures inside are more inviting than those outside, I will be sitting on my basement floor surrounded by decades of pictures, trying to finally organize them.
I might not get the job accomplished and I might be making this same promise to myself next year, but I do know one thing. I will smile and laugh, and even tear up at times, as I revisit precious memories.