That Helpful Unconscious

Listening to the radio one day, I heard an author say he had collected photographs of unidentified people and used his imagination to write short stories about them. I’ve thought of doing something similar with the old photos in my possession, because the author was correct: there is something compelling about pictures — of people who were once beloved and whose photos were probably cherished — that have somehow ended up in a place where no one knows who they are. Many of the pictures end up in the garbage. It strikes me as sad, but it makes sense too. So often, we don’t write names, dates and places on the back of pictures and sooner or later no one has a clue who-what-when-where-why.

I’ve been giving away many of my old pictures so that they will be with family of those who are in them, and not in a box where they will be meaningless and valueless to my own close relatives once I’m gone.

The author shared his writing routine for the collection of stories he has published. In the morning he’d choose the photo he would write about that day, then go do other things and let his unconscious come up with an angle for a story. He’d come back several hours later and voila, there it would be, ready to be written down and expanded upon. Now doesn’t that sound like a dream of a way to work?

I thought I’d try it. I chose this picture though, not one of people.

three goblets r

It hasn’t given me a story. Yet. And tomorrow it will be forgotten.

It’s so cold right now that it will be no surprise if there’s snow on the ground in the morning, which means I’ll have no wanderlust in me whatsoever and Emil, whom I’ve just picked up from town, will be disappointed that we’re not going to visit Uncle Neil.

I did, however, stop in at the library and sign out a few books that will be new to Emil. Maybe I’ll take butter out of the fridge to soften, and make some cookies. It feels like tomorrow will be “that kind of day.”

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6 thoughts on “That Helpful Unconscious

  1. Lorna,
    It’s Saturday morning here … and I’ve stood out on the step calling Duckie in … and it’s not so bad out there as I expected. Now if the sun comes out … Emil and I will be gallavanting … if he gets out of bed before noon. -Kate

  2. One of the saddest part of going through my grandmother’s house after she died was the piles of photos of people we couldn’t identify. One of the projects (on an endless list) I want to get to is culling out photos so my own kids aren’t left with that same task.

  3. Secret Agent Woman,
    I’m with you there. I’ve got my grandmother’s photos and my great-aunt’s photos, and they had some of THEIR aunt’s photos, and not everyone in them is identified. After Mom passed away, Dad went through their photos with my sisters and me, and identified who he could, but that wasn’t everyone. I no longer print pictures but have a whole lot and there are plenty that need identification and, like you, I mean to get to it. But the years do fly past, don’t they? -Kate

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