landscape of joy

Remember those kids that asked me to take their picture? The ones who were fascinated with my film camera? Here they are in all their glory.

This photograph makes me feel joyful. The explanation for my joy is two-fold.

First, even as I was making the picture I was aware of how carefree the kids were. How they easily arranged and posed themselves. How quick they were to smile. And how readily they befriended me. I tried to recall if I’d ever been like them - that easy and confident.

Sometimes it can feel safer to stay on well-trodden paths. Ruth Lande Shuman, the founder of the nonprofit Publicolor, which paints New York City Schools with vibrant hues, put it this way: “I think many of us hide behind an idea of good taste,” she said, “because we’re afraid to really be ourselves.” —Joyful, Ingrid Fetell Lee

Second, I’d been anticipating receiving these film scans all week. I’d already decided that even if they were terrible, I’d love them. Every last one. There is joy in imperfection, in the first roll of film with the thrift store camera.

As I scrolled through the scans, I felt a thrill; it was like holding memories in my hands. Printing them out and arranging them on my wall, I couldn’t help but see that I am flourishing, expecting future joy.