by Billy Collins
You are so beautiful and I am a fool
to be in love with you
is a theme that keeps coming up
in songs and poems.
There seems to be no room for variation.
I have never heard anyone sing
I am so beautiful
and you are a fool to be in love with me,
even though this notion has surely
crossed the minds of women and men alike.
You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool
is another one you don't hear.
Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful.
That one you will never hear, guaranteed.
The poem goes on... you can pretty well imagine the rest of it.
And I keep thinking of this poem as I scan old family photos. Some photos, like these, make me wonder. I wonder what 'beauty' looked like back in 1922. I wonder if these ladies were the charmers of the town or if they were truly as stoic as they look. I wonder if I take after any of them.
And mostly, I wonder if I should have had a mission statement before I started this scanning task (my boss would love hearing me think this!).
I looked up the history of 'mission statements'. Mission statements were associated with Christian religious groups. These groups would send out missionaries - men (generally) with a mission. So one assumes here that the missionaries had a "statement" of their goals, their tasks, their mission.
I am not sure what kind of mission statement I would have for slide/photo scanning. Certainly I wouldn't scan too many scenics. I wouldn't scan too many dumb party shots where everyone's back is to the camera, a drink in one hand, a ciggy in the other. But I would have a defined idea of just what I was trying to do. I would try to define the year a photo was taken and sort my .jpgs with titles starting with the year. And I would try to identify location, people, event.
And I'd play loud rock & roll music so I wouldn't have the Billy Collins earworm of this poem. I look at this portrait and wonder what Billy would write about them.
Be nice, Billy... they are my ancestors. And you would be a fool to consider them beautiful.