I began unpacking boxes as soon as I got into my home (which is 30 minutes west of Sedona) excited to set up what few things I had left. I figured it might take a couple of weeks. I had very little furniture, and mostly boxes of memories, and kitchen gadgets. Lots of kitchen gadgets. But, when my mover brought the boxes in, I suddenly realized that there were way more boxes than I’d ever had before! How was that possible? I had thrown away, donated, or given away so much stuff over the years! Could I really have accumulated more stuff?
Well, as it turned out, I opened box after box and soon realized that my things (which had been in storage for the past year and a half) were mixed up with dozens of boxes of my parents’ things. I thought my brother and I had already disposed of, given away, or donated most of it. But, no. And, of course, as I opened each box, a memory popped out with each item, bearing a banner that shouted, “Keep me! Keep me!”
All I wanted was to find my lemon juicer. Or my Himalayan salt lamp. Or that beautiful watercolor painting that my daughter made when she was only 16 years old. But, no. There were photos of my Dad during his career in the TV industry. Photos of him as a Stage Manager on the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin show, complete with Frank and Dean in the photo. Another photo of Daddy on the beach in Hawaii, setting up a shot for the Producer of the Lawrence Welk Show. And, a very faded photo of a Space Shuttle launch that my Dad directed for, I think, Good Morning America. I really didn’t want the faded photo of the Space Shuttle, but it shouted softly from its almost grave as I was about to toss it in the trash, “Noooo! Keep me!”
That’s when I dubbed the spare room in my house the “Media Room.” Piles of old VHS tapes, photos, a reel-to-reel film projector, and the cartoon film reel called “DOG” that my Dad made using stop motion, were brought into that room. A slide projector and reels of slides were tucked into the closet. And, I knew that there would be more, as the garage was still piled high with boxes.
I have since stood back in awe (and in fear) of that room. So many memories. So much history to preserve of the Bacon family, and my Dad’s amazing 35 year career in the TV industry. Was all of this preservation really necessary?
The other night I was going to bed when the following words came into my head. In my exhaustion, I think my heart was trying to tell my mind something. In order to document and remember what my heart said, I texted the words to myself.
“Humans are the only creatures who are obsessed with documenting their lives. Counting every moment, putting measurements on everything that they do as good or bad, up or down, right or wrong, successful or unsuccessful. Tonight I realize that, because we document our lives, marking the days and milestones through photos, videos, books, education, degrees, trophies, cherished family recipes, etc. we limit ourselves like crazy. If we did not document our lives, constantly looking back in retrospect, we would just wake up every day and we would just be in the moment, like a tree or a bird or an insect. Just living in the here and now.”
As I was going to bed, that all sounded really great and true. It still resonates with me now, as I write this newsletter article, documenting that moment.
However, each day I pass by the open door of the Media Room, and see the photo of my Dad on the beach in Hawaii, his long hair waving in the wind as he checks the camera shot, and I can’t help it. I go into the garage to open another box.