A picture perfect life
My Canadian passport has come in quite handy over the years. Aside from getting me where I need to go, this standard document has provided endless hours of entertainment. How so? Whenever my wife needs a good laugh, she opens it up and looks at my picture yet again. I laugh too. It’s a terrible shot. Truly hilarious.
How all those border guards were able to keep a straight face, and let me into their countries, I will never know. Although I can probably guess what they talked about during their coffee breaks.
There must be a school where you can learn how to take horrible pictures for official documents somewhere. A place where the goal is to make everyone look like they just woke up at three in the morning. This training might give people in power a psychological edge. Come to think of it, the guy on my driver’s licence does look suspicious. After one glance at my new photo I.D., I felt like making a citizen’s arrest and turning myself into the local authorities.
Perhaps you can relate.
Then again, it isn’t always easy to take a good picture, one where everyone and everything looks just so. Talk to anybody with kids. Talk to any wedding photographer after another nerve-racking day. Talk about a stressful job! In fact, getting a good shot is incredibly difficult at times – at least for me, and on either end of the camera.
An informal photo shoot for this website, for example, turned into a resounding gong show some time ago. Or in other words, it was an exercise in complete futility. How the delete button works is no longer a mystery.
If I had wanted to appear to be half awake, dazed and confused, grouchy and miserable, or completely disoriented, etc. most of the pictures would have turned out fine. But, of course I was hoping to come across as a happy, well-adjusted, and moderately successfully person who was coasting along quite nicely (thank you very much) through this life.
Unfortunately the camera did not want to cooperate. Confounded contraption.
But anyone who knows me, knows full well that I do not have a picture perfect life anyway. How many on this planet do? Really, how many people can back up the polished images they sometimes prefer to display?
Sure, there is something to be said for focusing on what is good, or even on a positive vision of what life could be like some day. It isn’t necessary to always dwell on the dark side, to be excessively realistic, or to fixate on personal problems. We don’t need to constantly air our dirty laundry. We all understand, as we pose to have our picture taken, that no one goes around smiling perfectly 24 hours a day.
Which is to say, that it’s perfectly okay to try to put your best foot forward. Why would anyone search for the worst possible picture they can find?
But the problem, as you know, is that it’s possible to quickly cross the line and go on to misrepresent who we truly are. It’s all too tempting for many of us to fabricate a life that barely exists, and then place this artificial image where it can be prominently displayed.
Strolling through a beautiful tourist town the other day, I was struck by how people could visit this bustling street – filled with expensive cars, well-dressed people, trendy stores, attractive restaurants, etc. – for all the wrong reasons.
For a moment, it felt like I was standing by the exit door at an image factory.
*This brief reflection about being authentic is also available in an audio format
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