What can a shattered iPad tell us about memories and priorities

So yesterday I had to go meet some clients at my studio and I was careless.   I set my iPad and some paperwork on the trunk of my car and turned my attention elsewhere for a minute or two.   One gust of wind later and the iPad hit the pavement – danced along the edge – the glass shattered.


Now since it’s just the glass – the LCD still works and it’s even usable, with a little care of course – and can be fixed for far less than the cost of replacement.

So as you can guess the events in the parking lot put me in an amazingly wonderful mood.   🙂

Yeah you didn’t see that coming did you.   A self-professed geek shattering a tech toy and he’s happy.

Well to understand why you’ll have to continue reading as as Paul Harvey used to say, “here’s the rest of the story”.

We have to go back a few days to a wedding this weekend.  During one conversation I had memories came up, I remember commenting on how when I think of the bicycle I received for my 6th birthday – I don’t remember the bike so much as I remember the photo in the family album of me standing there holding this bike.   Blue with a banana seat, those brand new steamers hanging from the end of the handle bars – and me grinning from ear to ear.   So much of our memories are tied to these photographs, it’s the photo we view again and again that cements it into memory.

I had been thinking and smiling about that photo and the memory attached to it for a few days when I pulled into the church parking lot (I rent my studio space in an old school attached to one of Denver’s historic churches) and had a man motion for me to slow down or be cautious standing in the middle of the parking lot.   I looked around the parking lot and saw a woman and a young girl riding a bike on the other side of the lot.

The little girl, helmeted and riding the bike with training wheels proudly and with a smile from ear to ear was going back and fourth from her mom to her dad in the parking lot.  In that neighborhood a mostly empty church parking lot was by far the best place for her to practice riding safely.

With thoughts of my own bike at a similar age still in my head I knew as I gather my stuff from the car I had to stop for a minute and capture this moment.   Now since the high-tech digital gear was packed away – waiting for next weekends wedding – I only had two choices.   A 30+ year old Canon AE-1.  While I love this camera I dismissed it for a simple reason – I had know idea who these people where or if I could get ahold of them in 2-3 weeks when I finished that roll of film and had it developed.   Now if that had been my only option I’m sure I could have gotten them to get in touch with me if I gave them a card – well at least maybe.

But I had another option – an even older Polaroid press camera loaded with some black and white Polaroid film.   I pulled the beast out, grabbed a shot of the little bike rider, and chatted with her mom for a moment while we waited for the picture to develop.   Giving them the original I kept the negative to scan and use in some blog post at some point (with moms permission)  – I still didn’t know what the blog post would be about though.

Polaroid 600SE


I was walking back to the car after this that the gust of wind came up and sent my iPad and paperwork to the pavement.

I made light of it – “don’t worry – it’s insured” (it is although the repair will be less than my deductible I’m sure) and headed up to my studio and waited for the bummed mood to set in afterwards.

But it never came.  The joy of capturing the image above is all I could feel.

Sure maybe the family will lose that polaroid picture next week, but maybe they’ll put it in a photo album.   If they are like most of us it will be one of the first photos actually added to their photo album since they bought their first digital camera.   The idea of this little girl, many years down the road, when she thinks about learning to ride her bike and the mental image that springs into her mind is this simple polaroid, taken by a photographer passing by with an antique camera, that just makes me smile and the shattered glass on the iPad can’t damper that for even a moment.

The iPad is just a thing – heck it’s amazing I’ve never broken one before the way I throw them around.   It’s an object that in a few years will have no practical value at all – by 2020 you’ll be lucky to get a few dollars for them on ebay I bet.   But a memory – that’s something to be held on to and cherished for our entire life.

This little story about a bike and shattered iPad probably explains more about who I am and why I love what I do more than anything else I’ve ever written.

Happy fourth everyone, maybe capture a family photo, print it out and put it in some long forgotten photo album and not just left on your computer or Facebook.