A picture tells a thousand words, they say.
But sometimes a picture contains a thousand words that are also never said. And so we assume the rest of the story and the details around them. That's what our mind does- it fills in the blanks to make sense of the world, ourselves and our surroundings.
But so very often those fill in the blank aren't very close to the actual truth. "You are lucky your kids do xyz", someone will comment, based on a picture. And them being able to do xyz isn't always true, but I get how they might come to that conclusion based on the picture. "You are such a good mom", someone else will say after seeing me take a picture of an adventure. Maybe they saw a picture of us at the Zoo or on a train. But they may not have seen me staring at my phone while they played on the playground earlier. They didn't see the hot dogs I fed them for dinner, three nights in a row. They didn't see me yelling and hollering and being completely and utterly impatient while on said adventure.
You see, we like real life. We like candid pictures. But mostly, we do not like real life pictures. If we did- then why don't we see someone use a profile picture of themselves with their eyes closed? Or that picture where we have three chins or a gut or sumo wrestler arms even if they highlighted an amazing memory? Because we like real life- but only up to a certain point. After that, real life starts to get uncomfortable.
Yesterday we went to downtown Fresno because I've been dying to look at this mural.
Painter, FranCisco Vargas poured his soul and five months of work into this incredible 34 by 125 foot sign. My pictures could never properly share how immense and majestic and colorful and full of life this sign is. It was more than I expected.
After we took a few pictures we started to walk around the surrounding area in downtown Fresno.
By now, Michael is mostly used to my adventures. But right after we walk past two men he says, "Can we please go now? I'm not very comfortable here" he said, looking left and right.
I can't help but giggle out loud. "Seriously?! We're fine!" I tell him. I walk slowly, holding Greyson's hand and admiring all the incredible architecture and isolated streets. I absorb the hum, history and character of my surroundings. "Aren't we having so much fun?" I ask Greyson, who usually doesn't answer me, but I always ask questions to anyway.
"NO". He responds, which made me laugh so hard until I was startled by a loud bottle hitting the pavement in front of us. I see a half naked body pop out of dumpster, throwing items out for recycling. My eyes pop open wide and my pace instantly quickens.
"Ok Michael", I concede "We can go back to the car".
I look over the few pictures I got and I love the feelings they make me feel. But I have to laugh because they do not truly illustrate the moments we had there. They tell a story, but it's mostly different from the real story we actually experienced.
And the funny thing is- that is true for all of us and for most of the pictures we post. I don't think any of us set out to deliberately mislead or lie about our lives. We don't go and stand in front of a million dollar home and say, "I love my beautiful home!" But each picture contains 1,000 words unspoken. It doesn't illustrate our fears or struggles of the day. It doesn't mention that you may feel like a failure as a parent or a human. They don't mention your marriage struggles, financial strains, and life pangs. People can look at your picture and not realize you may be lonely or angry or sad or confused, or just finished yelling your face off. Pictures tell 1,000 words, but real life tells a million more.
Pictures are magical though. I'm quite certain I could not live without them. You see- because all those other things, the other unsavory details-well, we forget them. When we look over the pictures after some time has passed, and we just remember the good stuff. We forget the guy in the dumpster and we remember the awe.
Trust me, your life is beautiful. And if you were able to see it from the outside, it would become so very clear to you.
I'll believe in you downtown- but only on the week days when it's a littler busier and a little bit safer. Regardless, you are still beautiful.