The Perfect GFTTs
Last newsletter before Christmas Day, meaning this is my last chance to write about Christmas for another 365 days.
I have three Christmas tea towels hanging on my oven door. One of them is upside down, one of them has chocolate smeared all over it, and one looks perfect. The perfect one has the creases in the right place. It’s hanging perfectly symmetrically and it hasn’t even been used yet. It’s just the way I envisioned my tea towels would be for the month of December when I got them. This is actually the first year that I’ve had Christmas tea towels on display. I felt very adult doing so. I was abnormally excited about receiving these tea towels. I envisioned us drinking homemade eggnog, decorating the Christmas tree, glancing over at my perfect kitchen with the perfect tea towels, and internally smiling at how amazing and perfect my life is.
It’s a trap. These goddamn fucking* tea towels (GFTT) and so many other seemingly perfect things, especially at this time of year, are a trap.
You see we have a towel problem in the Mann household. No one uses the right towels for the right job. I’ve found brand new, white, plush face cloths used to clean up coffee grounds, forever stained after their first use. I’ve found my good bath towels taken to the swimming pool, stuffed in a backpack, and discovered a month later, stinking of mildew. I’ve found the somewhat expensive, colour-coordinated Turkish hand towel in the bathroom used to clean out the blue coloured toothpaste in the sink. And, perhaps most disappointingly, I’ve found the beautiful, festive, brand new Christmas tea towels used to clean up spilt milk and chocolate from the homemade turtles we made last night.
I have very intentionally created a household that has specific towels for every one of those jobs. I have clean, ready-to-use rags under every sink in the house — easy and accessible. I have a drawer of designated swimming towels in the basement. I have microfibre cloths to clean the mirror and buff the sink. I have absorbent towels to dry the dishes, so that the Christmas tea towels can remain perfectly positioned to live out the fantasy Christmas of my dreams. But no one gives a shit. Except me.
These GFTTs have become a symbol for me. A symbol of how I have no control over the cleanliness of my domestic life, like smelly dishcloths, dirty socks in the hallway, and hair clogged sinks. Every time I pass by those GFTTs, I straighten them out and get pissed. And, then I go down the rabbit hole of the life of domestic unfairness I am destined to live.
Last week, I watched the Netflix documentary Stutz with my Mom. If you haven’t yet watched it, I HIGHLY recommend it. What I realized, after watching this show, is that these GFTTs were representing what Stutz referred to as “The Snapshot.” In his words: It’s the mind’s image of a picture-perfect life. Most people are on a constant hunt for the perfect experience: The perfect partner, the perfect amount of money, the perfect level of success. Stutz says thinking of life in this way resembles a snapshot, or a frozen moment, that has no movement, dynamism or depth.
My subsequent rabbit hole, about the life I am destined for, represents what Stutz refers to as The Maze. Just labeling these very real and normal feelings that we ALL have takes away the power of the anger that seems to accompany them.
As you head into this holiday season, forget the perfect snapshot. The perfect snapshot doesn’t exist in real life. It’s a trap. It prevents you from seeing what’s in front of your very eyes.
Our job as photographers is not to see and create the perfect snapshot, but to observe the beauty of what is. The story of what is, is always so much more beautiful and compelling than a perfect snapshot.
There is no perfect snapshot. Not in photography. Not in life.
Now go use the GFTTs to clean your sink. Release yourself from the trap of the snapshot and live your real life, enjoying the moments of its beautiful, flawed existence.
*Sorry Dad! Sorry Mom! (Not really though!) 😉
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