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Big Deals

I sat down on Saturday morning with a second coffee, a million photos and some brand new baby year books to fill. The kids were at the beach for the morning with their grandparents and Joel was at work, which left me in a pair of slippers and a calm house while the James Vincent McMorrow station on Pandora crooned at me. Hi, I’m Rachel. What’s that? What do I like to do when I’m home alone for a delicious stretch of time? Why, put on music that makes me cry and sap my way through a whole bunch of photos and memories, thanks. And yes, I will take the gag bucket to the left.

But listen, I’m adhering strictly to the Be Rachel protocol I’ve adopted, so whatever. The ritual of filling these books will always be a sentimental affair for me, and anything to increase The Feels is amplified for as much heart gusto as I can bear. I like feeling stuff. It helps me feel alive. Achy, heartfelt lyrics dripped through my ears and, well, I was gone.

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She still sits there
Warm, in the evening glow
But you don’t care about
These scenes I treasure
Of these west winds
I know, I know
Seems everything around here
Stays like stone
Seems it’s about time darling
About time we let this all go
Cause everything will start again anew
Cause everything just goes away my friend
And every king knows it to be true
That every kingdom must one day come to an end

 

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I have read countless memoirs of death, sickness and catastrophe to quickly gauge a common theme which runs throughout. Over and over again, these writers – faced with loss, pain and their own mortality – emphasise the importance of appreciating ordinary life. Over and over and over again. The bedtime stories. The cups of tea with their spouse. The sun, the bird calls, the warmth on their face.

There are times in the lives of most of us when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed over as unappreciated and unenjoyed. William Edward Hartpole Lecky.

It’s become a theme that runs again and again through my mind, this blog, the way I live my life because, honestly, the thought of not enjoying my life as much as I can terrifies me. What an awful regret, to lie there dying knowing all you did was sweat the small stuff and miss everything. I don’t want to reach the end without having reached the width and breadth as well. I don’t want to waste these ordinary days (and let’s be honest, most days are), too caught up in them to even see them clearly.

One day, this whole grand affair will be done and gone, and if I’m granted the warning of its impending approach, I know I will wonder, like everyone wonders Was I present enough? Did I enjoy it enough? Did I honour enough the gift I was given?
 

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I sat at my dining table on Saturday full of nostalgia – something I feel as bittersweet gratitude – and I wanted to jump on my soapbox and stand in defence of that crazy little thing called photography. For all the criticism it gets — yes, it’s not the whole picture, yes it’s a highlight reel, yes, it’s tricky striking a balance between living the moment and documenting it — the process of TAKING the photo, for me, means I live inside the moment in a far deeper way than I would have otherwise. I see the way the light hits my object. I see the raindrops spilling from an eyelash. I see the tiny glances, the colour, the background, the interaction happening around me in an amplified way, and to me, that feels as though I am reaching the width and breadth of my ordinary life. In my own little way.
 

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And these yearly photo books I create. They teach me something. They contain photos full to the brim of love, captions scrawled next to them by a hopeless sap of a mother. They are not filled with the hard bits – the screams and fights and tears, the mess and strain and pressure. They have no traces of the hard conversations I share with Joel or the progress we make in counselling. (Last session’s topic: How to Fight Right. We’re moving in leaps and bounds, friends. We’re like Anna Pavlova in The Dying Swan.) These books don’t mention the whinging that makes me lose my goddamn mind. But I will say one thing. When I look back at these books, this is what I think:

Why was I so worried about the spilt porridge that morning? Why did I care about that sock on the floor? Why on that day did I not OPEN MY EYES. Sweet baby Jesus, LOOK! These children! Let them be little! This man! He’s working and trying and loving so hard! Just like you! Don’t sweat the small stuff! Who cares! It’s no big deal! Honestly Rachel, one day you will die and this is SO UNIMPORTANT. Go play, enjoy them, enjoy yourself, fill their baby books – fill YOUR book, FILL YOUR DAYS WITH AS MANY ORDINARY HIGHLIGHTS AS YOU CAN because THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT, FOLKS.

And the sun, she may be long gone
Lost to these memories we’ve found
But she’ll be here
When it’s all done
When our bodies are lain beneath the ground
Seems everything that goes around
Comes, comes around here
Seems everything that stays here somehow
Gets me down again

Everything will start again anew
Cause everything just goes away my friend
And every king knows it to be true
That every kingdom must one day come to an end

You want to know the great big deal? It’s happening right now, in your kitchen as your children make messes and dance to Frozen. It’s happening in your bedrooms at night as you tuck little bodies into bed, as you cuddle animals close, as you have hard conversations with people you love that bring you that bit closer to the truth and each other. It’s happening in your cars, your bathrooms, your backyards. Get out the fancy china on a Wednesday night. Blow up balloons for the hell of it. Go on that walk. Light sparklers on a Monday. Drink from the special cups. Make life one big special occasion because these ordinary days…these days you are in…they are SUCH a big deal.
 

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Fresh red toenails, glowing winter sunlight turning everything a rich green, crunchy leaves, red strawberries, homemade pizza, neighbourhood walks, spontaneous road trips, and plans…always making plans to be together, to make the most of these precious ordinary days.
 

Monday Ballet

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Sunday Dinner With My Family

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Weekend Farmer’s Market

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This week, a busker was playing Lumineers covers and since I speak fluent Lumineer, so too do my children.

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We were all in major heaven.
 

Strawberry Picking Family Day

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And hundreds of moments in between…

Everything will start again anew
Cause everything just goes away my friend
And every king knows it to be true
That every kingdom must one day come to an end

Thankyou, Pandora, you did your job. Until next time.

Oh, and I cannot stop looking at this photo without laughing. Taking golden hour to a whole new level.

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Happy Tuesday!
 

4 Responses to “Big Deals”

  1. Christina Howes

    I love the strawberry picking outing. We must do that! Beautiful post, and yes i agree about enjoying as much as you can and be grateful for what you have because regrets suck!… and this stage in our lives will pass and we will be sad when our kids don’t need us any more. Oh. So. Sad…so i am totally on the love life wagon and living life to it’s full…and for me, that doesn’t involve sky diving, climbing Mt Everest or becoming a CEO, but being and great mum and making sure i tell the people i love that i LOVE THEM AND APPRECIATE THEM.

    Reply
  2. HappyFamily

    Love this!!! It is incredible how motherhood can make you appreciate all the used to be small things in a new way. I love to celebrate and try to celebrate something everyday from the potty dance to clapping after our daughter says a meal time prayer. Your photography is amazing. You are so talented. What a great gift to share with your family.

    Reply
    • The Red Tent

      It’s always, always the little things 🙂 And thanks for the compliment – photography is certainly a great love.

      Reply

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