A New Outlook

CJ Moore | Sep 08, 2010 @ 10:05 AM

Steve Kunes was the video dad – the dad in the back of the auditorium or the top row of the bleachers who watched the world through a small little hole in his camera.

Then one day after Kunes and his wife got divorced, he lost it all. All the videos and pictures he had taken, all the documentation of his kids’ lives, were mistakenly auctioned off.

Kunes had rented two storage units following his divorce, and two hours later his two units somehow were part of a self storage auction. Auctions are a regular occurrence at self storage facilities when the renters who haven’t paid their bills have their stuff auctioned off. Of course, Kunes had just started renting!

I imagine my Aunt Cindi, who is the documenter in my family, the one always insisting we get a picture, and the devastation she would feel if all those memories were gone in an instant.

But instead of devastation, the lost cameras and memories had the complete opposite effect on Kunes. For the first time, he went to see his daughter perform in “The Nutcracker” without his video camera, and he was blown away by what he had been missing through watching his daughter through a lens.

“The elation I experienced at my daughter’s performance can only be equaled by the sorrow I felt from realizing I did not really know my own children, not like I thought I did,” Kunes wrote. “Many other such memories of my children come to mind and they all have one thing in common: The most vivid ones were not archived.”

I’m not a dad yet, but I’ll remember this lesson when I am one day. It’s something we should all remember. If you’re the documenting mom or dad, try leaving your camera at home or storing it at a storage unit if it’s too tempting to take it with you (and it should be safe… most facilities will not auction off your stuff by accident).

Being a writer, I’m pretty good at recalling memories. Sometimes when I’m with my family or friends, I just like to sit back and take mental images of what’s happening. I love listening to my grandpa tell stories. There are never any pictures that he can show to accompany his stories, but his memories are still crystal clear.

Of course, everyone loves his stories, so Aunt Cindi interviewed him and put them on cassette tapes recently, which I’m sure I’ll appreciate one day when Grandpa is gone.

I guess documenting is not always such a bad thing.

To read the rest of Steve Kunes’ story, click here.