I love traditional photo albums – the heavy pages, the gelatin cover, the vivid colors, even the smell has something inviting as you slowly turn the pages and travel back in time. In the age of digital folders and snapchat, I can’t wait to find some free type to print and organize my very real albums.

And then randomly pick one of them, pour me some hot chocolate while it’s raining outside, sit comfortably on my couch, get inside my very own Tardis and enjoy the ride. If I’m really careful I can almost listen to the song that was playing the moment this one was taken – because these are the only ones I keep.

Oh yes, I’m very strict when it comes to choosing which ones I’ll send to the printer. I want only the powerful ones. I’m only trying to bring to life the ones that fill my heart with every kind of emotion; joy, nostalgia, pain, melancholy, happiness and hope.

Because that’s all one wants from a really good photo album, right? Emotions. A photo album is nothing more but a satisfactory, albeit a bit masochistic, visit in our past – supposedly on our best memories, but we all know that’s just a load of bollocks. Because, while you’re browsing through your sister’s wedding photos, you’ll remember that that’s when you were dating your ex. And while you’re admiring yourself in this pretty blue dress in your cousin’s graduation, you remember that around that time you were fired from job.

You see, good and bad memories travel holding hands. You can’t just keep the former and delete the other – that what’s we try to do on our photo albums and I just demonstrated the vanity of it. Sadly, no, we can’t erase our bad memories and only keep the shiny, smiley ones inside our heads (and we shouldn’t even want that, but that’s a different issue).

But, even though our brain is slightly more complicated than a photo album to handle, there is actually something we can do: Highlight our great memories – in the exact same ways we try to polish and highlight pictures of what we consider “happy” and “fulfilling” moments.

Put them on the higher shelf, on our first page, in order to see it every single time we open the album – that is, every single day we open our eyes. Instead of trying to remember sad things that aren’t even depicted there, remain focused on what’s happening before your eyes; your success or your happiness, whatever the picture you “chose” shows – I guarantee you that, once you begin doing that, you will start feeling differently (in a good way) in a matter of days.

Because, that’s what our life is; an elaborate, multi-paged photo album. We may not get to choose or completely control its content or its entirety of photos, but we do get to choose which pictures will show up the next time we open it.

And for those of you who do not possess this kind of photo album and/or don’t understand what I’m talking about (I do sincerely hope there aren’t any 10-year-olds lurking around), just trust me and go ahead and buy one. And if you have a problem installing the pictures (glue their backs on the hard photo paper)… then, just throw it away, you’re not worthy.

For the rest of you, just remember that, if life is indeed a photo album that was given to us by our ancestors, then we’d better hurry up and put some really great stuff in there, shall we?

Author: Petra Lane

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