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Finding Balance

Jamie Sperling

We live in a world where you can have dinner, tap shoes, and antique car parts all delivered to your door in an instant. You can shop for produce from the comfort of your sofa, and purchase your next book in your pajamas. We can save an endless amount of information, without worry of losing even the last four letters typed (thank you, Google), and we can see the photos we take the moment our finger pull back from that tiny white circle at the bottom of our phone screen.

    In so many ways technology has improved our lives; it has made it easier for a busy mama of three to get groceries without having to manage the mid-cereal-aisle-meltdown, and it’s allowed friends across the globe to stay connected despite the thousands of miles between them. But I often find myself wondering, or worrying rather, that our digital blessings are crossing boundaries; slowly overwhelming spaces that need to be keep sacred and steady...the way they’ve always been.

Do we really need Jiffy Treat delivered to our door at 9:30pm in the middle of winter, or is that better reserved for a warm summer evening filled with laughter and irreplaceable memories? And have we come to accept ‘thank you’ text messages as appropriate instead of personalized, handwritten, ones?

    I’ll be the first to tell you that my iPhone sleeps next to my bed, I have an iPad that carries all of my books, helps me run this paperie, and also stores over 1,000 photos of my people and my products. I rely on Target to deliver laundry detergent and face cream, both of which I ordered while having a cup of coffee in bed on a Tuesday morning. But I also know, living hours away from our family, that technology like FaceTime and text messaging doesn’t even come close to replacing the tiny pieces of snail mail we receive every so often with our names written in recognizable handwriting. Or the way it feels to have our home suddenly filled with the voices and things of our out-of-town guests. Being together, talking, sharing space and memories is unmatched when it comes to technology.

    I share the same feelings when it comes to authoring our stories. I certainly don’t want to be remembered by all of my Instagram posts, or what pins I saved on Pinterest, but rather for the memories I thought were important enough to spend the time recording. The pages of my journals tell my story in the most real and raw ways- the countless days that I wrote about our new home and what it felt like to own such a cared for piece of history, the months we prayed and longed for a baby and the months after when she was growing in my belly. They tell the story of my marriage and all the small moments I want to remember forever, they are the history of how we’ve become the husband and wife we are today. The words, and letters...the way my handwriting loops and the pictures I chose to paste in to accompany these entries are all tangible artifacts of my life, where I’ve been. I wrote them, I touched them and if you showed even one pages of my journal to my friends or family they’d immediately tell you “that’s Jamie’s”. I want my story to be told through artifacts and heirlooms that I too once held.

    The foundation on which I stand when it comes to authoring my own story, doesn’t end with handwritten journals though. I’m not drawing a line in the sand and selling all of my devices just to be sure I’m honoring my belief that handwritten artifacts are significant. I think we can have it all. We can honor the old, while still engaging in the gifts of now. A simple but meaningful example of this is how I collect memories for our daughter. I have volumes of handwritten journals for Adeline Grace. I write letters and keep tiny notes, so one day when she’s grown up and wants to hear about her earliest years I have tangible things to give her. But I also have an email account set up in her name so that periodically we can send her photos, videos, and news articles that will serve as reminders of life at these times. We have a collection of emails in there that tell her birth story, what Christmas morning was like for her at 1 and 2 years old, we have emails from godparents and other family. One day when she’s older we’ll gift her with the password and allow her access to some of the most special memories she may never have remembered. We’ll give her the key to unlocking hundreds of photos that show her just how blonde and curly her hair was, once it finally grew in.

You see, I believe that most things in life are truly good. It’s finding the perfect balance, not counting one thing out over the other, that makes for a rich life. You can put pen to paper and collect all of the feelings of escaping town with your spouse for the first time after having a new baby, but you can also relive that same moment  5 years later when Facebook shares the photo. You can show up at each other’s doorsteps, and still FaceTime. You can text and send snail mail. You really can have it all.

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