I transferred photos the other day, to a big external hard drive… LOTS of photos.

I spent around 2 hours on Tuesday morning, watching the progress bar on my monitor, barely move. But it started first because I wanted to clear out my DSLR camera’s memory cards before Thanksgiving. That didn’t take much time at all. I had summer vacation pictures and baby pictures, but only a couple hundred.

So then I moved on to my Dropbox account where my phone uploads pictures I take. I moved a couple thousand snapshots to my computer. Then I cleared that online cloud storage folder.

After that I tackled the telephone – only another 4500 pictures needed to be copied from it. That is when the progress slowed waaay down.

An hour later, I had everything transferred and cleaned up. WOW, it appears that I take a LOT of pictures.

What are they really though? These digital images? Why do I spend a bunch of time saving them or trying to back them up?

Physically, they almost don’t exist. I have no idea how my computer’s drive saves them. I know how to retrieve them and edit or print. But, physically I am not aware of how they work. I do know that each of the pictures on my phone are at least a couple megabytes each in size. I know that they are each a rectangle shaped jumble of multicolored pixels.

Physically then, it is true that each picture on my phone is exactly like every other one. The image may lend itself to be more zeros than ones, in the binary format, based on how light or dark it is. But looking at each pictures actual ‘physical’ code, doesn’t tell us much of anything about them.

Physically, at the structural level, they aren’t much use to us.

Ahh, so there must be more reason for me to spend two hours saving them then…

Of course. The photos on my phone or yours are not merely the sum of their digital code.

The content of the picture, the still image, the frozen captured snapshot of a real-life moment is what could be important to us. Important enough to save.

I have lots of them that are worth it. I have pictures of my wife and my nephews, of the funny staff of our restaurant, and of course, my baby too. I have LOTS of pictures of my baby!

Thousands of them, and physically they are worthless, but spiritually they are like refreshing sips of a life altering elixir. The spirit awakens and dances within when we look at a picture of our family, of places we visited, of our children. The value of a photograph is individual and special and exciting to see, when you connect to it in a personal way.

I have lots of photos that I saved that are just documents. Maybe it is a part number of a piece of equipment, or contact information, or a blank screen from an accidental shot. Physically, they are the same as all the others. Spiritually, they don’t connect.

There is a physical size to things. The world shows us the mass and the size and the contour and cost of each ‘thing’ in our lives. The divine shows us the beauty, the comedy the nostalgia and history. These things cannot be captured in a physical sense.

The spiritual is everywhere, it is just as important as the physical world we inhabit.

On Thanksgiving week, a meal of food is served and we are filled-up, just like every other week. The company though, the blessing of togetherness and a warm-hearted family gathering is fulfilling, it is spiritual satisfaction and a moment of immeasurable joy.

At least ours was.

I hope yours was too 🙂


Aaron Nichols

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