I had finished my lecture on the unnecessary stress being online gives after the daughter told me about streaks. She had taken a picture of her left nostril for a streak, and I was appalled. “IF you are going to send a picture, at least take one worth remembering.”
“Relax! It is just for a streak.” Streaks are apparently how many days in a row you have sent pictures to each other. The pictures themselves are deleted, so it doesn’t really matter is what I was told. I was having trouble stomaching something like this. Pictures were important were they not? They were little bubbles of memory. You took some bubbles and relished them again and again. I appreciate my left nostril but do not revere it with a picture! I said somewhat indignantly.
When we take family pictures, we write sagas about them.
Challenges here: The Saga of the Family Photos
Precursor here: The Family Photo Saga Part 2
Motive Matters here: The Spirit in the Photograph
The daughter told me that times had changed, and asked me if I wanted a picture of my left nostril too. “This little thing has changed a lot of stuff mama” she said waving her precious phone, and gave me that look that makes me feel like a T-Rex fumbling on an aeronautical console. I blew my nose in disgust, and went about preparing for the picnic by the beach.
“Can you take a pic of me like this?”, said the teenaged daughter, handing me her smart phone, the matter of the left nostril forgotten for greater things in life, such as the tranquillity of a beach. She looked happy and contented. Just the right kind of picture that will satisfy social media gargoyles, her expression seemed to indicate.
I took the picture, and showed it to her.
“Ugh! Lousy picture! Gosh! Okay….okay…let me show you. See…just have me look out into the ocean and take it from this side.”
“Makes you look like a silly woodpecker wondering where the trees have gone while looking into the ocean.”, I said.
She laughed raucously, and said “Just take the pic!”
After a few pictures and videos of the waves lapping the shores, she sniffed the air like a horse raring for a race. “Interested in a race little dobucles?” she said, and tousled her little brother’s hair. I looked at the promising noses twitching with competitiveness, and I offered to referee as I set the pair off on their race.
It was on the way back that it happened.
A wave with a little extra force knocked the pair off their feet. While the gangly teenager managed to regain her balance, the little fellow a few feet behind her in the race was wrapped around snugly by the wave and fell sliding with the waters into the wave. I ran to lift the fellow. He had managed to sit upright, but was sputtering sand and spouting saltwater like a little dolphin. It was several minutes before he started laughing. I herded him back to drier patches, changed his clothes, rinsed out his mouth etc.
It was then we noticed the daughter’s cellphone was missing. It had probably popped out of my pant pockets and washed into the ocean, while I was running towards them.
I don’t know how many teenagers will take lightly to having their cellphones dropped into the ocean. Mine took it stoically. All those pictures at various angles for her instagram feed, pictures of her left nostril for streaks, sound tracks of the waves, videos of the edge of the sea- all gone. Had we been anywhere else, the disappointment would probably have been keener. But we were surrounded by a sunny day at the beach. Nature calmed and soothed, and it seemed to the daughter as if the dear ocean need not have tried that hard at all. She was stoic enough.
“I called the number at night again, and there was a glug-glug sound in response. “ I said the next day.
“Too soon Amma! Too soon!”, she said giving me a wan smile, but brightening at the thought of her quip. “But the jellyfish is a smart one huh?!”
Days later, I patted my pockets looking for my cellphone. I hollered to the children to get my phone as I headed out.“You know? The ocean has taught me that we don’t really need cellphones. Life is just fine without it! I can remember the sound of the waves, and the beautiful images of the day by the beach if I just close my eyes.” said she donning an expression of experienced wisdom.
We then burst out laughing. “Running by the beach is always a wise thing to do, that is probably why the sandpipers are the wisest of them all.” I said, and she agreed. Those little birds running up and down with the waves were a sight worth remembering.
The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves. _ Rachel Carson.