When Miguel was five, his school had what they called a fly up ceremony. On the last day of kindergarten, each child would run down the hallway with their arms outstretched to symbolize flying up to the elementary school. The halls were crowded with proud family members and friends, each trying to capture the moment with their cameras and video cameras. I remember one of Miguel’s teachers, Ms. Melom, explaining that the crowds and the cameras could be overwhelming for some children (not to mention the fact that it was a logistical nightmare for the teachers). She suggested that instead of competing for the best position and seeing the event through the lens of a camera, we store it in our minds rather than our hard drives. I think of her words to this day.
Luisa and I took a lot of pictures during our time in Iceland but there were some moments when we’d say, “Let’s just keep it in our mind’s eye.” It’s actually a powerful thing to let go of documenting every single thing; it’s freeing.
Tonight, Zeca’s middle school band played a joint concert with the high school band, even playing one song together. If you ever need to feel hopeful, go to a school concert. All those young, earnest musicians gathered together often can move you to tears. When Zeca’s band took the stage, she sat in the very back in the low brass section and I could only see the top of her head and maybe an 1/8th of her face. I took a picture and then realized that I was being ridiculous because a fuzzy picture of the top of her head in a dark auditorium was not going to make the experience more meaningful and certainly would not capture the beauty of the performance. So, I put my phone away and sat back. Luisa whispered, “I’m not recording,” and I nodded and held her hand. We both just kept it in our mind’s eye.
So, I have no picture to share here but I can tell you that the final song was performed by over 100 students - a mix of middle school students and high school students - and that it was fast paced and perfectly imperfect. When I need a little hope, I won’t search my hard drive for an image. I’ll close my eyes and imagine the packed stage, the top of my daughter’s head, and the sound of 100+ young people united by a single piece of music.