The photos in this post were taken by our now-gone Fuji Finepix s6000 camera.
Early this December, our home was broken into. Happens to millions of people. Happened to us, here in Albuquerque, though we’ve lived in rougher, nastier places. We are so grateful none of our kitties got outside to be killed in the street or the desert–and that none of them were hurt during the robbery. So grateful. So lucky.
Our little camera was not so lucky. At the time, we didn’t care about it being stolen. Still don’t, in comparison to the lives of creatures that depend on us. Now, however, seeing the empty camera bag, I spiral into philosophy. Maybe silliness and nostalgia. The reality of change. Knowing it could have been much worse, but still feeling a sting from losing something we relied on for business, fun, family. The fact that someone else decided to take the camera from us, without our permission, removing our own choice to give it away, smash it, sell it, or save it, forever, sits in the back of my mind. I suppose it does with anyone who’s had something stolen, even when we know material things don’t matter.
We saved up for our camera. Researched it. Planned it. Put money away a little at a time to afford what was then a huge purchase–a $400 camera, outside of our budget, but which would work well for photographing our artwork, sculpture and jewelry. Part of our livelihood. Replacing a little 4 megapixel Olympus we’d used for years.
We photographed artwork, kittens, shows, events, each other. The last photo of Loki was snapped with it, before he died. It was with us on some of our best days, and some of our worst days.
It was trusty. Nothing fancy. Good photos, hard working. I wonder how excited the thieves were when they discovered it. They cast away the camera bag and took it bare, I imagine leaping through the shattered sliding glass door to freedom with it. It looked more impressive and expensive than it was, and at most they might’ve gotten $20.00 for it, pawned. I wonder what it looked like when they found it, maybe cheering, taking it, running. Wondering if they tried to use it to photograph their own families, themselves, each other. Because even the thieves will go home to moms, dads, wives, brothers, children, friends. This Christmas, are they giving it as a gift to someone? Wondering if they kept it to use it, or immediately trekked to re-sell it (the most likely course).
Was it offered to a pawnbroker, who then turned it over in his hands, considering its value? Was it shucked in a Walgreen’s parking lot, along with jewelry and other oddities culled from other families’ homes?
I have come to the conclusion the camera was no longer meant to be ours. What if it was given to one of the theives’ family members, say a grandma on a fixed income, who can now use it to snap photos of her grandchildren? Now she has a camera, however ill-gotten, that is hers.
What if it ended up at a pawn shop, where a budding photographer will find it–a good camera at an obscenely low price. They will eagerly buy it, practicing shots with it every day. Building their portfolio with it, their experiences, their career. Had it never been removed from us, it might not have ever made its way into their hands, where it now blooms.
How do we know the loss of the camera was not a good thing?
I only wish the damned square for the tripod wasn’t still attached to the bottom of it.
There is a Taoist tale from the Lieh-Tzu about a man who loses and gains different things.
Among the people who lived close to the border, there was a man who led a righteous life. Without reason, his horse escaped, and fled into barbarian territory. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said : “what makes you think this is not a good thing?”
Several months later, his horse returned, accompanied by a superb barbarian stallion. Everyone congratulated him. But the old man said: “what makes you think this is cannot be a bad thing?”
The family was richer from a good horse, his son enjoyed riding it. He fell and broke his hip. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said: “what makes you think this is not a good thing!”
One year later, a large party of barbarians entered the border. All the valid men drew their bows and went to battle. From the people living around the border, nine out of ten died. But just because he was lame, the old man and his son were both spared.