Your average family photo has a group of people smiling into the camera. You can usually identify the year, give or take a few, by the dĂ©cor, hairstyles and clothes but beyond that it’s not very enlightening. The snap that stands out usually, as we say, captures the moment. A freeze frame, its not so much a statement as a scenario that invites you to answer all the questions that it poses. What is that person thinking? What came before? What happens next? The moment is the subject and everything else is incidental.

Life is rarely rehearsed, though we would often like to take a peak at the script, but is usually posed. We think about how we dress, days are usually planned to some extent, we have protocols for how we interact with others, especially those we don’t know and surprises are not often welcomed unless they are ones we would have approved of had we been informed. It’s normally in times of crisis that we find ourselves frozen in a perpetual moment. These moments are the ones that get played back, like a scene from a movie, each time you find yourself removed from the stage to be a spectator of your own life, where the moment becomes the subject and you, merely an actor.

In times of personal tragedy you find yourself in a surreal world where everything is fluid, where you can pick out characters and events but there is no order or continuity. In other crises the world is merely distorted as if viewed through a fish eye. Sometimes there is an uneasy calm where you can assess the situation knowing that all hell will break loose once the camera starts rolling again. My life has more than enough freeze frames interrupting the continuity that would otherwise help me rebuild my fragmented and disordered life.

When life follows a pattern you need only make small corrections and minor repairs to maintain your lifestyle. These can be done on the fly, as it were. When the fabric has been removed and the structure dismantled you need to continually assess the progress and rework your strategy. The temptation is to dream of the completed project and despair of the numerous and often onerous tasks that seem to make such a small impact on what you would like to achieve. Yet if ignored, they can bring your life crashing down. At the moment I feel like I’m caught in an ambush with events to the left of me and my own folly to the right.

The choices appear to be despair or resignation. But I wonder if there is a third way – illumination – to take advantage of the freeze frame and examine what came before and, in the light of that, take charge of what comes next. The world seems to be divided into victims and survivors. Ironically, it’s the victims who merely survive (if they don’t perish). What if I could tell my grand kids, “that was the turning point of the war, when the penny dropped and victory was secured”.

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