The Everyday Tragedy of Being Frozen in Time

It’s a moment that I’m after, A fleeting moment, but not a frozen moment.”-  Andrew Wyeth

Many of us cherish the early years of our children. I often look at my son and get a little sad at how quickly he is growing up. I loved his little feet at 3 months old. I loved seeing him wobble when he was a one year old. I loved his little phrases at two years old. I loved his exploration at three years old. At four, I just love seeing his thought processes taking flight. While I have loved every moment and every year and I dread the day he leaves me to go to college, I don’t want him frozen in time.

When the Newtown tragedy happened, those smiling faces, made us all shed a tear. Those children’s smiling faces would be no more. Those photos would be how they would age. Or rather, they would never age. They would be frozen in time.  And now, we all collectively have another kid frozen in time. Martin, an eight year old boy killed at the Boston marathon, will be forever remembered spelling out his name and wishing for peace in widely released photos.

On the news we keep getting new photos of the latest cooker pressure fragments that have been found.  The lid of the pressure cooker bomb has been found on a rooftop. A circuit board has been found or that is what they say when they describe the photos for us, the viewers.  I readily admit, I cannot tell it is a circuit board.  I am not even sure I want to figure it out. Last night I barely slept due to the images of the day, the photos of the injured, just running over and over in my head.

We are shown repeatedly on television and online new photos of those recovering from their horrendous injuries at the Boston marathon.  We are repeatedly shown the photos right as the blast was occurring.  True enough we do not have to watch the television coverage. True enough we do not have to click on the photo links that are clearly labeled as graphic.   But we want to see. Photos capture our collective interest and our imaginations in a way that they didn’t just ten years ago. Instagram. Flicker. Snapfish. Facebook. Twitter. We are bombarded with photos of those living in the moment. We are bombarded and we seek out photos of the mundane, of the profane and of the numerous horrors that befall society. We want to see what we just experienced. It is as if we want to just play back our lives on a continuous reel. We are reliving our lives over and over again.  We are freezing ourselves in time.

The photos have narratives that accompany them. And we get even mire enveloped within them.  What’s that saying? Life is a stage? The Boston marathon is bringing forth extraordinary stories.  Two brothers each lost a leg but their human spirit is alive. I cannot imagine the level of anger, hurt and confusion they must be feeling. Who hasn’t been touched by the story of the guy in the cowboy hat that helped the young man who tragically had just lost both his legs?  The cowboy had lost both his sons in the recent past few years (one in Iraq and one to suicide) and there he was running to help with his American flag soaked in the blood of those that had lost much.  Here is hoping that the media attention is helpful and not detrimental to his still aching and recovering heart. And may that young man that lost his limbs find comfort and determination to pull forth.  May his family not be in shellshock at the image of their loved one in such a state of body decomposition.

I am still on the road and thus I have not been able to hug my son.  I have talked to him every day while on the road. I hear his high-pitched four-year old voice say “hi mom” while he fakes a cough to get my attention and my heart swells. I have often thought “oh he is growing too fast and that makes me sad.”  But I realize that I have to accept that time goes fast and just value the ability to grow old with him.  I don’t want those developmental milestones frozen in time.

The news stations keep asking people to provide the-FBI with leads and images in order to piece together the events that led up to the marathon tragedy.  I must admit my first reaction was to wonder why the news media is asking us to work with the FBI. But I get it.   Our collective photo-taking obsessions can be of actual use.

We have all become obsessed with documenting every moment. I know, for example, how I take photos of every interesting restaurant entrée I order.  We capture every moment and freeze them in time. We look back at those photos and note that we lived that moment and then we quickly forget them. How many of us, while on vacation, have taken 2000 photos on our cameras, IPADs, or phones?  We are memorializing every moment of our lives. Do we live any moment now for the moment? Do we live in the moment? At times it seems that we are living for the photo, to memorialize, or have a memento of a moment.  But we seem to bypassing the actual lived experience in favor of capturing for future viewing, the moment. We aren’t living for the now, but rather are living for the ability to document our time on earth.  When you are at some delightful new place or engaging in a new activity, have you ever photographed it and then looked at the photo immediately.  Of course, you have.  We all have. Wow, you experienced that event a second ago and it is already being memorialized.  Wouldn’t we better remember those moments though, if we had to rely on our vivid memories where we soak in each moment carefully and memorize them?

For now, however, we have to note that yet another child is frozen in time. Photos give us a glimpse to who he was. We won’t ever know who he would have been.  Frozen in time.

Leave the camera behind for a second, go hug your loved one and experience the moment. Try to remember the emotion. Feel the emotion.

“We revolutionaries acknowledge the right to revolution when we see that the situation is no longer tolerable, that it has become a frozen. Then we have the right to overthrow it”

Ernst Toller

3 replies »

  1. It’s heartbreaking. I’m glad that the photos helped find some suspects but there is so much to do moving forward. I think another fault with our fast-paced need for immediacy is that we’re too impatient with follow through and I really hope people realize all the implications of this.


    • Thanks for sharing. Impatience with follow through is definitely something i have seen in the workplace more and more. The fine art of methodically trying to figure something out is slowly disappearing


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