Last Updated: Sun Jul 24, 2011 00:37 am (KSA) 21:37 pm (GMT)

Noora Faraj: Pictures Paint a Thousand Seconds

Every time I need to cheer myself up when I’m feeling home away from homesick (although I vehemently persist that I do not suffer from such psychological malady – mind over matter!), I play my favorite songs and flick through my visual photo library.

I have never been partial to being in front of or behind the lens. Maybe it had to do with the fact that my mother had the photographic habits of a Japanese tourist or was a walking CCTV camera.

On any occasion, carrying a camera was a bit of a burden. My handbag could weigh a ton, but the slim portable digital camera of the 21st century would be one item too many. I was fortunate to be surrounded by friends, if not my mother, who would watch an event unfold on the camera screen rather than in reality. I always quietly thank them afterward for playing paparazzi.

Thinking about it, it’s fascinating how a single second snapped in time, has the power to trigger a memory that spanned anywhere from 3 minutes to an entire chapter of life. Same goes with music. It could be the lyrics (that you would’ve sung wrong but claimed as your own remix to avoid sounding completely daft), or it could be the melody that reminds you of a certain smell or sight (yes, sometimes the senses tend to overlap like that).

Sometimes, I find that the effect comes full circle, and I’m back to feeling slightly defeated (by failed attempts to pump some reminiscence-induced endorphins into my system). The reason for that is the essence of a photograph – it’s a moment in time, and then it’s gone, never to be retrieved and replicated in its original state.

So you cling to that photo and try to take yourself back to that moment, all the while memories are being made while you’re consciously existing, yet subconsciously distracted.

I’ll stop emulating Freud, and get back to digital daydreams.

(Noora Faraj is a Columnist for Al Arabiya English Website, and Senior Producer of Web TV. She can be reached at:

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