Laminating Life

When we were in Sedona back in October, we attended Shabbat services. During her sermon, Rabbi Magal commented that she was trying to stop “laminating life.” In other words, she had grown acutely aware of how fruitless it is to try and preserve the temporal, to hold tightly onto people, things, experiences.

I thought instantly of a Mother’s Day card my daughter gave me when she was sixteen. She had written on two sides of a sheet of paper all the reasons why she loved me. They spanned the mundane: “She brings me pizza rolls from the store” to the humorous: “She married a tall man,” to the tear-provoking: “She has more hugs to give than anyone in the world. She loves me unconditionally.”

Receiving such a paean was thrilling. So thrilling, in fact, that I didn’t want anything to happen to this 8×11 sheet of adoration. The Monday after Mother’s Day I rushed out to Kinko’s to laminate it and kept it close at hand one of the shelves in my kitchen cubbies. It’s still there, and I take it out every once in a while to enjoy again.

Rabbi Magal hit upon something; I have come to regret encasing my daughter’s loving and exuberant words in rigid plastic. Granted, in the scheme of regrets, this is small potatoes; but the lesson is large. I cannot feel the paper that my daughter touched and connect to the teen Emma was then. Her note cannot be folded and tucked into a small pocket. It will never gain that patina of age, creases deepening, its lavender painted cover fading over time. True it will never disintegrate but in my impetuous move to preserve it “as is” forever, something deeply tangible was lost.

The rabbi’s caution against laminating life has stayed with me. Life’s only constant is change; if we use both hands to grasp everything in sight, we leave them useless for giving or receiving.

What of your life have you laminated? What was gained and what was lost?

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6 thoughts on “Laminating Life

  1. donna ryan

    love this post. change definately is part of life and I am pretty good at not trying to preserve things forever. I can also understand how you would want to keep this special note from your daughter safe. In this case despite the fact it’s laminated you can see it. Perhaps you cant feel the paper as you say but it’s special to you and you don’t want it damaged. We can’t and should not stop change however once in a while I think it’s fine to preserve a few cherished items. Transitions are exciting..we don’t grow when we hold on to what is.

    I recently have dealt with my son moving out. My butterfly left the cocoon but it’s fine. I’ve gained a smiling face when he returns for a visit and no worries they do return. Most of our lives we can’t hold so tight to but I would most definately have laminated that note, too!!!!!

  2. Ronelle Grier

    Laminating life….what a great phrase, and your post about the concept was insightful and inspiring. I think that’s why I’ve never been a big “picture taker.” I’d rather experience the moment, the vacation, or the event than spend time documenting it with my camera. Thanks, Debra!

  3. cindylaferle

    I have done this too, and have written about it often — the need to photograph every moment, and freeze time. I am glad I’ve taken those photos, though ….

  4. Ann Wanetik

    Laminating a few good memories is not ultimately a wrong thing to do- it can be very gratifying to find a piece of that lost memory as times go on- some parts of it will always be elusive whether that card or piece of paper has been laminted and lost the finger hold of the person who gave it to you. But it is important to understand that life does go on and that by laminating our total selves into the past is not real or healthy. Life is made up of movement and we need allow ourselves to be a part of that movement in order to grow and enjoy no matter how testing some of those transitional times can be at that moment in time. One needs to remember that finding a laminated facsimile of a memory in itself is just a lovely vinyette in time and that finding a vignette of loveliness is just that ” loveliness.” Ann

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