Friday, January 29, 2010

A mission statement


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.


E said...

What about photos of you father at one of those parties with a lampshade on his head? I never thought anyone did that in real life, until I met you! Now I know truth is at least as strange as fiction.

Diane AZ said...

For some reason, it surprises me that the baby looks as serious as the grown ups. I think it's great that you're scanning and organizing your old family photos, I should do the same.

KB said...

Oh my, a mission statement sounds scary. But then, I realize that I make 'missions' for various parts of my life. I just never write them down.

Those sure are some stoic looking people... It's great that you're scanning in the old photos. I find the motivation to do that in spurts, short ones.

altadenahiker said...

I wonder, at that time, if they were so thrilled to have an actual photograph they never thought to add a touch of glamor. Also, didn't they have to sit in a frozen pose for minutes at a time?

For some reason, my ancestors look like pilgrims.

BANJO52 said...

And now EVERYone's got missions statements. At least schools seem to. And visions and benchmarks. Jargon.

Ancestors: I bet you've wondered how you'd have fared in their worlds. As for me, gives me the shakes.

Joanna Jenkins said...

This made perfect sense to me. I've often wondered if "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" was said in regards to some of my old family photos!

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