When I was a kid, we would often attend an annual festival where, practically overnight, a parking lot would transform into a full-fledged carnival complete with rides. I loved riding the carousel with its magical horses and sometimes other more exotic animals that nobody would actually ride in real life, like tigers. The fun wasn’t really the ride itself as it was just a bit of bobbing up and down in place while the circular contraption spun at a snail’s pace. No, the real fun was simply getting to choose my own horse. Sometimes, the horses had names printed on them, but I preferred it when they didn’t so I could give them a name I made up for them. Since they often had golden manes and seemed a bit magical, I would try to come up with names that sounds fancy, like Xavier. I remember, when I was very little, leaning forward to whisper something into my horse’s ear. Though I recall the act, I oddly can’t remember what it was that I said. Perhaps, I was simply calling its name I’d given it or sharing some other little thing that was on my little mind at the time. I guess I’ll never really know for sure what was said, but somewhere out there, there’s a carousel horse who knows the truth.
It strikes me that there are many little mysteries of my youth. Though many stories get retold so I’m able to remember them over time, those smaller moments have all been lost. I simply don’t remember them clearly if at all. I grew up during a time long before social media and when cameras were a single-use object that required film. Today, you can capture memories and share them instantly, forever logging them in time and saving them to a computer. Videos can be shot with your phone in the moment. This is certainly far more efficient that those boxes of photos that can end up lost in a move from one house to the next. And I would love to have videos of my little self, as it might spark even more memories that I’ve forgotten. But, I also rather adore that my memories get to remain purely old-fashioned and come back to me simply as bits of family folklore or vague recollections. The feelings are all there, but many of the precise facts are now cloudy or missing entirely. It’s been nice to capture so many of the ones that have come back to me here. A doodlewash is a wonderful way to inspire bits of almost forgotten history.
Many people say that the way we present ourselves on social media is a better or more carefully refined version. Or, at worst, a version that’s simply not true at all. The latter is indeed a negative side effect of the current technology, but the former is not really that much different than the way we’ve always presented ourselves. I remember being handed a scrapbook of photos by friends or family when I was young. These were carefully curated images that had been preselected to be shown to an audience at some point. Sometimes a clever caption would appear that took a bit of extra thought to be included. This was why I thought Facebook was rather cool when it launched as it was a digital version of precisely the same experience. Of course, now, Facebook and Instagram have moved away from that entirely and added an ever-changing algorithm to the mix. This is the equivalent of looking at a lovely scrapbook and having a stranger burst into your home and flip it to page 10, before you can possibly object. It’s bizarre and has made the whole experience far too unnatural to be as enjoyable as it once was. Yet, in the way we still feverishly attempt to share things, at least, it’s rather similar to the way that we once did. Life doesn’t really change as much as we think it does, because our human nature tends to keep us behaving in very much the same way, slowly and happily spinning in circles.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Cobalt Blue, Terra Cotta, Vermillion, and Aureolin. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!