Faded away

July 8, 2008

How will Atticus, my son of nearly three, see his past at my age, more than a half-century hence? At his fingertips he’ll have countless digital photographs and videos chronicling his life. Hundreds are already burned onto hard drives and into his brain: the boy loves to sit on my lap and watch them. The Early Years in umpteen million crystalline colors, viewed again and again.

My early years are chronicled in precious few aged snapshots, incongruous on a computer screen. In some, poignancy emerges from ethereal haze:

The photographer’s ghostly shadow, dead mother hovering over faded sons, their youth fading like film undeveloping.

Still, I’m grateful to see us then. But how did we feel in the moment? File can’t be found.

In the end, no matter how many megapixels fill up a memory drive, they don’t record what’s lost. Maybe at my age Atticus will vividly relive the past by logging into an emotion capture program. You’ve got mail old feelings! That’s the killer science-fiction ap I yearn for. But using it might be too intense to bear.