There’s a nice lady over at BlogHer who wants to know why we do what we do: scrapbook, that is. Frankly, I’ve never asked myself that question–perhaps because, to me, that would be like asking myself why I breathe, why I eat, why I sleep. It doesn’t get more basic than that.
But it’s an interesting question, now that it’s been asked. And my good friend Jessica Sprague has encouraged us, her devoted playground inhabitants, to make our voices heard. So here’s my one little voice among thousands.
Why do I scrapbook?
Why do musicians put down into melodies what they can easily say in plain words? Because it’s a much happier way to express what you need to say. (If you have a fretful sleepy child, try saying “Lullaby and good night” and then try singing it, and then tell me which was more effective in getting those eyes to droop contentedly). I scrapbook because it makes me happy. I scrapbook because it’s a much nicer way for me to express what I want to say, even if what I celebrate on a layout is actually the most mundane event of the day. It helps me to see the world with a singing heart.
Why do historians write history? Everyone wants to understand what happens around them. And having understood, they want to pass on the insights they’ve gained. Scrapbooking allows me to do that for my children, to leave them with a lasting legacy of my view of our lives as well as lessons learned. Scrapbooking allows me to write my own history, to record what is important to me, for myself and for the generations that will come after me. Others may easily say But who’s going to care in a million years? My answer: who can tell that they wouldn’t? We can convince ourselves that it’s a silly and sentimental trip, but really, if Anne Frank had said Who would care whether I put my thoughts down in this little tattered but highly treasured notebook?, would we have had a wonderful glimpse into the poignant life of this little girl living in the midst of a very real and terrifying war?
Why do authors write? Everyone likes to listen to stories. Everyone likes to tell stories. I scrapbook to tell stories. My scrapbooks are my way of passing on to my children (and perhaps they will want to pass on to their children) my life, their lives, our family’s lives, the little ordinary things that, taken altogether, make up a genuine uniqueness that can never be duplicated elsewhere. It is my way of making sure my story and their stories get told. It is my way of ensuring that they will always have visual evidence of how much those whom I love mean to me. My mother passed away when I was eight, and though I know instinctively that she loved me as any mother would her child, I had nothing written down, no letter, no note, nothing visual that I could go back on during those times when memory just failed and there was a need to at least read that she loved me, since I could no longer hear it. I want to make sure when my kids have to go through that, they will have something to hold in their hands, a powerful visual message made of photos and my own words, to tell them over and over again, as often as they care to look at the pages, how much I truly love them.
Why do poets write verse instead of prose? I love to write, always have and always will. It is, to me, as essential as living. Writing allows me to tell my story in my own words; and who of us has no story to tell? Every day is a journey, and every journey is rife with stories waiting to be told. The cavemen passed on their stories by mouth–they too had that need. It’s primitive yet real. I scrapbook because I want to satisfy that same need that has existed since time began.
Why do photographers take photos, when every split second the scene changes and then it’s gone? Ah, but see, that is precisely why. Photographers and I, we love taking photos. We like to hold in our hands the power to capture a moment from our own viewpoint and preserve it forever on tangible paper. It’s freezing a moment in time so that you can come back to it again and again. It’s sort of like being able to bottle up happiness and being able to sniff a little of it every now and then, whether it’s because you need some upliftment or because you just want to float in its overflow.
Why do painters paint? Every artist wants to share with others his view of the world as he sees it. Painters have their own choices of media: brushes or fingers or palette knives, oil or water color, canvass or paper or walls. Scrapbookers have their choices: digital or paper, sweet or grungy: we all have different styles. And we all choose what fits us best in our quest to record our view of life. I scrapbook because I am an artist at heart. I love drawing, I love painting, I love creating. I love taking something and making something more out of it. It’s pretty much like my desire to leave this world a better place than when I came into it. It’s leaving my mark, my individual contribution to what is already there. Scrapbooking allows me to express myself and release my creative juices using brushes, paper, photos, my computer, my printer (oh yeah, technology works for me big-time!).
Why did Alexander Graham Bell invent the telephone? Why do we write letters or emails or telegrams? Our makeup as human beings dictates the need to reach out and touch someone instead of living on an island separate from the rest of creation. Scrapbookers are a wonderful community to move with. There is real support and real friendship, none of which requires parental consent and all only of the positive, clean, uplifting kind. To be sure, this can be found anywhere; it is not exclusive to this large group of people who go crazy about the latest brushes or papers or wordart or screws and brads. But it is wonderful to be a part of a larger, worldwide community whose bridges are built strong, transcending differences in race, color, creed and geography, because of a shared love and appreciation for what each of us holds dearest to our hearts, because of a certain courage that allows us to put our heart out on a piece of paper and trust that no one will trample over what we’ve just shared from the deepest recesses of our very being.
Why do I scrapbook? I have a passionate desire to express myself in a combination of words, art, and photos. I want to record my world the way I see it. It’s really a matter of self-expression. I am a living being and I want to celebrate life, mine as much as the lives that belong to those around me. I am a wife and a mother of five sons, and I treasure the look on my boys’ faces when they see me celebrate them through my scrapbook creations. I have struggles and triumphs and pains and joys, and putting them down in my choice of art form allows me to taste and savor these experiences over and over again, and perhaps learn a bit more each time.
Without scrapbooking, my life would be sorely lacking the beauty of art, the celebration of joy, the declarations of love, the amazement with the ordinary, the wisdom and insight gained as one gazes at past events, the poignant recall of memories, the release of pent-up emotions and creative rushes, the friendships that transcend all boundaries.
I scrapbook because I like to live, laugh, and love fully… and then be able to experience all that over and over again, alone or with those who matter, as we leaf through the pages of my creation.
This is why I scrapbook.