How Many Copies? – Embrace Change

Embrace Change: leading Buddhist teachers and writers offer stories, teachings, and meditations to help us embrace the change in our lives.

Sylvia Boorstein
20 March 2012
moon, sun, change
Photo by Mark Tegethoff

After the birth of our first child, Michael, fifty-five years ago, my husband Seymour and I used a photo of the three of us to make a Rosh Hashanah greeting card. We sent it to all our family—four grandparents and multiple aunts and uncles, whom we’d been close to as we grew up but left behind when we’d married and moved away to California. We continued the yearly tradition of the family photo, over time marking the addition of another son, two daughters, dogs and cats, and, in one of them, a pet rat.

Twenty-five years later, after grandchildren began to appear in the photo, we were still taking the September picture. It had become a bit more difficult to assemble everyone at the same place in time, and one year, feeling I had got it done in the nick of time, I rushed to the photo store to have cards made.

“How many copies do you need?” the shopkeeper asked.

I stopped to think. I was surprised to find, after a moment’s reflection, that apart from a few assorted distant cousins, there was no one left. That must have been almost true the year before, too. Apparently I hadn’t noticed.

I remember feeling disconcerted. On the one hand, I certainly knew that time had passed and the collection of photos documented that. I just hadn’t felt it as it was happening. I didn’t have a word, other than odd, to describe that moment of realization.

I felt much the same feeling yesterday, January 21, 2012, at the party celebrating Seymour’s eightieth birthday. I have drawers full of photos, albums filling whole shelves, to show that time was passing and things were happening. It just never felt like it.

photo of Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia Boorstein is a psychologist and leading teacher of Insight Meditation. Her many best-selling books include Pay Attention, for Goodness’ Sake and Happiness Is An Inside Job.