Instant Nature / by Akira Ohiso


Epstein commits suicide in his jail cell. Trump blames the Clintons. Top back-to-school buys: bullet-proof backpacks. I unplug Google Home from the wall. “Hey Google, you’re dead.”

”I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

Sunday morning. I talk to my father who vents about an upcoming dental procedure. Since my mother died, he’s had no emotional ballast. Through adult eyes, I wonder if he ever did. My mother grew up with an alcoholic father where she was socialized to maintain statis. Did she enable my father? Did she enable me?

In hindsight, I was a spirited child and a difficult teen. I was hard to parent because of my impulsivity and lack of focus. My kindergarten teacher told my mother during a parent-teacher conference, “Akira’s just here to play.”

Yet, my mother gave me room to be. And a lot of my upbringing was a series of starts and stops, choices I made. Today, I acknowledge my self-sabotage, my feelings of inadequacy and my reasons for quitting. Wisdom has given me the confidence to honor my limits. Just saying “no” is revolutionary for people with histories of low self-esteem.

I have been doing analog excursions with the kids. To me, they are self-consciously “analog”, to the kids “excursions.” My parental guilt needs to acknowledge the “providence” in providence.

My oldest son is fascinated with instant cameras. He cannot believe that I lived in a world where you could not delete photos. The photo came out depicting reality, pimples and all.

My daughter asked for a Fuji instant camera for her birthday. She walks around our apartment mostly taking picture of our cat. She waves the ejected photo like a fan, a developing technique I remember adults doing when I was a kid.

I walk with my oldest son around the neighborhood so he can experiment with the camera. To him, the film feels precious. He doesn’t want to waste it. I encourage him to waste film and find his artistic eye.

He takes some nice outdoor shots and has no desire to share them on Instagram or Snapchat. When we return home, he puts them in a photo album.