Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Just As I Am.

The question, "Do you document the bad stuff?" surfaces from time to time on message boards. And, from time to time, a reply that always surprises me surfaces along with it: no. It's explained in a variety of ways, but it usually comes down to this: "I only want to remember the good things, and I want others to remember me happy." 

Why do I disagree with this? 

This English teacher has read Brave New World and moderated the happiness vs. unhappiness debate enough times that I have finally arrived at the same conclusion that John ("the Savage") does at the end of Chapter 17: 

"But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."

"In fact," said Mustapha Mond, "you're claiming the right to be unhappy."

"All right then," said the Savage defiantly, "I'm claiming the right to be unhappy."

Granted, Brave New World doesn't exactly address scrapbooking in its utopian/dystopian vision -- although that might fall under the category of "soma" for those who scrapbook in pursuit of happiness or something like it -- but it is a book about what it means to be human.       

Happiness is part of the human experience, and some may even chalk it up being the very meaning of life, but it isn't the sum of the human experience. If we don't let our real, raw selves enter the records of our days, if we don't resist the urge to slap a smile on every page, then we might actually end up documenting our humanity as we experienced it rather than our humanity as we want others to believe we have experienced it.  There is value in vulnerability, in sharing how we handled living with uncertainty, with not always getting to find out the answers to our questions. From time to time, we need to "claim the right to be unhappy." 

I most definitely was not in a happy place yesterday.  At one point, I thought, "I don't feel like scrapbooking."  Then I started thinking more about that -- was I assuming that I had to be super-duper peppy, that I had to be in a good mood in order to be creative?  When I'm full of anger or angst, that doesn't keep me from writing -- in fact, it produces amazing writing and helps me to find clarity -- so why should it keep me from other creative outlets? 

I decided not just to work through my feeling of uncertainty, but to work with it.  My goal? Capture the here and now, inside and outside. 

I took a photo of myself without brushing my hair, putting on makeup, or changing my shirt.  I printed it in black and white, true to my grayscale mood.  The photo was the first item I placed on the page, and around it the layout came together. 
It's not spectacular -- it wasn't intended to be.  It was my attempt to remember to be human, just as I am, and not to back away from that truth when moving forward relies upon my acknowledgment of it. 


  1. Love this. I find that a lot of times I feel the most creative when feeling extreme- happy or sad or angry. I don't believe in only documenting the happy for sure. :)

  2. Love that you always keep it real.....thank you!

  3. Loved this!! I am guilty of only scrapping happiness but I scrap for me and I always say I'll remember the hard times without writing them down. I do love what you had to say here and will think long and hard about it for a while! Thank you!

  4. Loved this read, and your layout ... I loved it all! Thanks for sharing this. Xx