God creates things. Man labels them. Man labels them and classifies them and organizes them. I think it gives man comfort in controlling some aspect of his surroundings. I’ve never been much of a fan of labeling, though I am an ace sorter and organizer. I think labeling leads to most of the issues we have between humans. I can see how it helps us make sense of the physical world around us – all the pieces parts, animals, plants, movements, sounds, physics – all that. When the labels seek to separate, that’s when problems arise.
When I was little my older brother would catch butterflies and bugs for his collection. He would pose them on a straight pin piercing their stiff little bodies and carefully mount a label containing their common and Latin names underneath. I recall him telling me once that I was a very frivolous person, not having the same interests as he in more intellectual pursuits. I read fiction, I liked comedies – what a waste of time! To him.
I have attracted a recent follower on Instagram who feels an intense need to go through my nature photos and identify not only their common name but their Latin name, origin, family (those are the wrong labels, I am sure). I admire that he has all this information in his head. My mind simply does not retain it. It is far too cluttered. But what about the photo? Did he like the photo?
He is nice about it. He adds the comment with all the proper information. I took the photo for a reason. I used that angle and that light and that subject for a reason.
I can’t even remember the name of my favorite TV shows or bands. “You know the show with Sheldon.” It makes me laugh. “You know that band that sang that song about potato chips.” I can’t even remember the song name but I love the rhythms. I probably only remembered the potato chips because I was hungry. I can usually remember the lyrics if the song is playing. (That isn’t very impressive though, is it?) It isn’t that those things are not important to me. I just can’t lay my mind on the information in my brain to recall it at the moment it is needed. I can remember it later, sometimes. Faulty wiring, I blame on a medication I was given over twenty years ago.
I said to the doctor, “I am missing words. Easy words like…you know…a pet, four legs, barks. What is the word for that?”
The doctor said it was stress, not to worry about it. Then a week later took me off the medication saying that it was contraindicated that I remain on it this long. I think I could have drawn upon the words for a response to that.
I now find myself feeling guilty that I do not know exactly what type, among the million or so, mushrooms I took a picture of yesterday. I hesitate before I share it because I sense that this follower would like it to be named.
If I waited until I identified officially from the many handbooks I do have for mushrooms, wildflowers, birds, etc., I would never get a photo posted. I learned early on that it is almost worse to incorrectly identify on platforms like Instagram or Facebook. There is always someone out there lurking in the dark shadows of the network that is waiting to correct you. It’s what they need to do. And they do it with a sick sort of enjoyment as though it were a contest that they won. You know them. The grammar ones have been round to your place, haven’t they?
What if when I stop at the woods today, there are more I do not know the name of? (Grammar Police just ignore that preposition, it’s also something I do.) Do I stop taking pictures? Probably not, it’s what I need to do, much like it is what this fellow needs to do to name everything. I suppose these are our roles. I take the photo. He identifies the photo. If he is incorrect, someone else corrects the label.
Look at photo, though – that angle, the depth of field – you love that fuzzy background, don’t deny it.
Look at the photo. Label it, but tell me how it makes you feel.