On the way to the market this morning (along with the rest of the procrastinators) to buy fixings for lumpia -- a New Year's must-have -- it occurred to me that I wasn't all that excited about the switchover from 2015 to 2016. Should I be?
While I once counted New Year's Eve among my favorite holidays, I don't really feel that way anymore. It is a holiday that is overtly about time and its passage; it forces one to reflect on beginnings and endings. This is, in theory, a good thing -- New Year's Eve might actually be the most effective holiday for reminding us what it means to be human.
That said, I now understand why we respond to this day with alcohol and excess and explosives.
And traditions. There is comfort within them, after all -- they offer a semblance of regularity, of balance, amidst uncertainty.
Here's one of my mine: each year at this time, I look back through the pages that I have created, because they aren't just pages, they are memories. They are part of the story of my year. Here are fifteen pages from 2015, and what they say about how I spent the last 365 days.
This is a good place to start, with beginnings. Perspective is everything, and this year, I have tried to embrace the extraordinary in the ordinary, to release myself from narrow thinking and to be more open to what is before me. This is, as the journaling makes clear, not an easy task, but even in the most frustrating or mundane of circumstances, wonder is still present.
This year has brought with it a lot of change and soul-searching. I know that some might look at a layout like this and see a reflection of selfie culture, of narcissism, but that's not the case here. I always feel awkward putting my face on a page. A Kardashian I am not. Even though I might be reluctant about literally "facing" myself in the process of creating self-portrait pages, I cannot convey strongly enough just how illuminating the process can be.
Because scrapbooking is an investment of time and self, no layout is devoid of meaning.
I really can't say what will become of these pages someday, but I know that the process more than the product has impacted me and brought about shifts in the way I perceive and move through the world. I look back at these pages and regard them as freeze frames, momentary glimpses of life as it is lived.
This year's pages document a lot of the "big stuff" -- milestones, life-changers.
They document a lot of the "hard stuff" -- the heartbreaks, the setbacks, the pushing through.
They document what endures.
And they document what delights.
They each, in their own way, make a simple request, a human one: "remember."
This is why the details matter -- memory fades. The freshness and fullness of right now will inevitably recede, but through scrapbooking, we can gather up the bits and pieces, the fleeting and the fragmented, and piece them together on the page.
Already I am looking back at this year through a haze. These pages offer moments of clarity.
I don't just want to document events, each page part of a monotonous cycle of who-what-when-where. Stories are more than their plots. Scrapbooks are a chronicle of sorts, and within any story, an understanding of character is essential. I want my layouts to be about those with whom I share my life.
I want there to be spirit and personality and laughter and love in my pages.
I want color to be not just in the papers and accents and photos, but in the memories as well. I want every page to be vibrant, full of life. It all comes back to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Because scrapbooking isn't just about life; it's about a legacy.
It may sound morbid, but we can't really talk about memory without acknowledging mortality. We all want to focus on beginnings at this time of year, but the endings can't be denied. As the inscription on Keats's grave site reminds us, our names, too, are "writ in water." This is not to say that all attempts at documenting our memories, at trying to remember and be remembered, are futile; this is to say that scrapbooking, which some still mock as a silly little hobby, reminds us of what it means to be human. Page after page, we document what is already past, and in doing so, we learn how to be even more present in our own lives.
So here we are, at the end of a year, and at the beginning of a new one. If you've been following me at all here, then you know what needs to be done -- you can feel the itch in your fingers, you can see the page coming together already, piece by piece.
It's time to remember. It's time to move forward.
Scrapbookers know that each relies on the other.