Have you ever asked yourself why you do the things you do? Not work, school, or chores. I’m referring to hobbies.
Occasionally, I find myself standing beside my camera on a tripod, somewhere remote in the freezing night, asking myself: “Why photography, though?”
The first answers that usually come to mind are the cliché that I do it for fun and as a distraction. I do it to get better at this and explore new places.
Over the last year, I found another meaning to add to that list.
Existence precedes essence
During my late high school days, I was always bothered by the question of what truly defines oneself. Maybe Jean-Paul Sartre is to blame since we had to study him briefly, and everyone loved piling on him by calling their works “depressing.” What they meant to say was “boring.” The dude just loved rambling on and on… like any other philosopher.
It doesn’t take much brainpower to realize that we are our memories. And from this, a new fear developed. Now, fear is often irrational. For example, I’m afraid of spiders, which you could describe as a phobia. The small ones make me anxious, but I can deal with myself. When we get into centimeters (plural), that’s when I go full panic. And let’s not mention tarantulas, or we’ll be here all day.
But I don’t think this other fear is irrational at all. I find it very much justified and a real threat to oneself.
The fear of forgetting
I’ve always been afraid of forgetting, of losing my memories. Fearful of becoming unable to remember, think, and communicate. Afraid of slowly drifting away in one of the cruelest ways I can imagine.
You might be thinking that’s very unlikely; after all, Our World in Data estimates that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s across the world is around 682,48 for every 100.000 people (or about 0,68%). The World Health Organization estimates 5,4% for men and 8,1% for women, but that’s only considering people among the 65+ year old age group.
It might seem the odds are low and unlikely but don’t forget we’re still living through a pandemic with a global fatality rate of around 7,9% at its worst. Worldwide fatalities are estimated at about 6,9 million people (as of this writing).
Say what you want, but forgetting who I am feels like a real, terrifying possibility.
In the end, all memories go away
Even if we keep our memories intact until our last breath, we all eventually die. And we take our memories with us.
Some people find solace in their beliefs system, maybe afterlife or reincarnation. Despite being an atheist myself, I’m glad they do. I have no issue when people go to religion to find the answers science has not given us yet.
Still, there’s something heartwarming about the thought of being remembered, of not being forgotten in time. But still, eventually, everyone we shared our time here with will also go away.
Maybe that’s why some chase fame, power, and money. Perhaps they desperately yearn to be remembered for all eternity or at least until the end of our species. The reality is that the overwhelming majority won’t. A handful will become a footnote in an essay someday, if lucky.
I couldn’t care less. I don’t want to be remembered.
So, I’ll keep taking pictures wherever I can, even if it’s cold outside. Even when late at night and must wake up early the next day. Even if I must drive for hours back home. Even when my compositions suck, and delete everything once I’m back at the computer. Even if it’s not my job. Even if nobody likes what I do.
Because when I’m browsing those pictures, alone or with friends, I can think about the good times that went by and the good times that will come.
Because I want, above all, to remember.
PS: After proofreading this, I realize it might come as sad or depressing to some, but fear not, I enjoy going down these trains of thought. Everything’s gonna be okay. Also, I wonder what I’ll think about this post in, say, ten years from now, assuming the blog is still online by then. I’ll probably say it’s trash.