There’s an expression that “a picture paints a thousand words,” implying that a photo, painting or image can convey a complex idea in a way that would take many words to express, if words could ever do it justice.
This photo of two mugs—one intact and one broken—held closely together by twine, totally grabbed me the first time I saw it. I sighed, my shoulders drop a bit, I felt my eyes and total facial expression change, and I immediately felt a warmth flowing through me. It’s a very simple photo with an extremely deep meaning.
The two mugs depict the true meaning of commitment—representing how two people stay together regardless of what happens to one of them. One mug is obviously broken in some way, not as functional as it once was. The other one appears to be fine on the outside, but who knows how many small cracks are internal but unseen by others, on the verge of springing a leak as the faults build up.
But the two continue to be held together. Sometimes one or both of the mugs can get shattered and cannot be mended. Sometimes the twine wears thin or even breaks. Sometimes the frays can be mended, sometimes they cannot. We are all broken in some way and the twine provides a mutual helping hand and portrays devotion.
It seems obvious that both mugs are of the same vintage and mold, which to me seems to represent spouses or partners. However, the same concept could apply to parents and children, and it could be intertwined with Alzheimer’s, cancer, injury, or just growing older. For me personally, this represents my wife Mary’s and my journey through Alzheimer’s disease.
This photo meant a lot to me, and I wanted to share it with you because it made me realize a positive aspect about Mary’s and my situation. I still feel a warm melting sensation within me every time I look at this image. It says so much without words. It signified Mary’s and my lives at the time when I first saw it and still does.
For our situation, it could have been the other way, with me being the more outwardly affected person. Regardless, I know the twine would still hold together.
The photo speaks for itself much better than my words can, as they seem only to distract from its significance, seemingly making it two-dimensional instead of the fullness of three-dimensional. More importantly, it’s even more meaningful being fourth-dimensional which covers the course of time. I think we can also say “a picture can tell many years.”