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Picture Day

(Listen Here)

Picture day is perhaps the biggest day of the school year. Time will pass while images captured and carefully scattered throughout the annual burn a spot in our mental history book. We'll never see most of our classmates again, so they'll always be their first-grade selves with a 1978 haircut. We'll read about one another in the paper when we get married or have a baby. We'll bring up a random name in a random conversation and immediately flash back to Mrs. Jone's class on picture day. It could be thirty or forty years down the road, but all we will manage to see is a seven-year-old shadow of an innocent ghost pleasantly haunting our memories.

None of us realize the significance of the photo, but we do as we're told and line up single file, then march to the gymnasium. It never occurs to the teacher what it'll mean to us to look back years later to remember who we were. The poor guy snapping the picture only thinks about the end of the day so he can go home to his family. It feels like a pretty insignificant gesture once we line up on the steps and struggle to smile simultaneously. It's easy to forget about the entire ceremony as soon as the camera clicks, especially with the playground only a few yards away. All we want to do is play.

It's effortless to take each day one at a time. Our parents do all the planning, organizing, and worrying for us. So all that's left is to listen to the teacher and see who can swing the highest. Twenty-four hours is sort of a little lifetime; if we do something terrible like trip a kid during recess or break the pencil sharpener, it's no big deal. We get a fresh start the next day, and all is forgiven. None of us take a moment to ponder how we'll eventually become the parents who do all of the planning, organizing, and worrying. We're unaware of how clouded our minds will ultimately become and how life tends to dictate how we spend precious moments instead of us controlling our destiny. It's a good thing we have picture day. It'll be a welcomed escape somewhere in the future, I'm sure.

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