A Living Presence

Anna LinSeptember 27, 2023Now and Then

In my household, the past is passed down through dusty boxes of yellowed pictures and stories.

Stories of every trip, every journey, and every holiday, they are the stories that piece together my family’s history.

The boxes of family albums are lumped together in a drawer by the TV. We rarely open it, but when we do, our schedule is set for an afternoon filled with laughter and joy. The family photobook, or rather the collection of family photobooks, have been passed down over the years. From pictures ranging from freshly developed polaroids to aged yellow photographs hanging on their last lives, we cherish them all the same as we carefully store each valuable photo into its own individual pocket.

However, as a rebellious child, taking pictures was something that I despised. I hated how a moment could be captured forever like this, and how I with all my unprepared imperfections was going to be saved in a photo album passed through generations.

This is why there are blanks in the pictures that are supposed to paint out a timeline of our lives.

Because of my stubbornness, we missed a few chapters. Looking back, these blanks in the photobooks are precious reminders of my growth and evolving relationship with the past.

But as I matured, I began to appreciate the significance of those missed moments. They served as reminders that life is not always neatly captured in photographs or preserved in albums. Memories are etched in our hearts and minds, and they transcend the limitations of physical representation.

Now, I actively seek out opportunities to hear the stories from those missing chapters. I sit with my parents and grandparents, their voices carrying the weight of time, as they recount tales of triumph, love, and resilience. These oral narratives become the threads that weave together the fabric of our family's history, connecting me to my roots in a profound way.

Through these storytelling sessions, I learn not only about my immediate family but also about the generations that came before. I discover the struggles they faced, the traditions they upheld, and the values they cherished. I am reminded that I am part of a lineage, a tapestry of experiences that have shaped who I am today.

In our community, we value both the past and the future. We celebrate the wisdom and traditions inherited from our ancestors, recognizing their enduring significance. Simultaneously, we embrace the potential and possibilities that lie ahead, knowing that the actions we take today will shape the legacy we leave for future generations.

The past is not just a collection of faded photographs or distant memories in our community. It is a living presence, an integral part of our present. We honor it through storytelling, preserving cultural traditions, and fostering a sense of belonging and continuity.

Anna Lin is a 18-year-old from Taiwan. She can’t live without boba and wants to travel around the globe with a book in her hands. She enjoys reading fantasies and fantasizes about the world.