This toy soldier's final tour of duty is ushering in the end times.

All good things must come to an end. And other things end, too - like this job. I had made a promise to myself that I would no longer be a toy soldier by the time I turned 25, and my July birthday looms. Farewell, FAO. I will miss my employee discount.

The end times are ushering in the end times.

When major events happen in our lives, we’re always told that there are lessons of significance to be taken away, to be stored in our “now that we’re older and wiser” manila folder – vital lessons that will make us better people.

I guess so.

But sometimes the only truth I manage to retrieve from these rapidly passing days is a repetition of the theme: things happen. And how inspiring is that?

People are continually and feverishly analyzing situations and events, trying to decipher the clues in order to discover cause. The burden of the occurrence is placed on Time, God, Fate, Science, Karma, Butter, Satan, Stupidity, etc. And it’s quite a consuming pursuit. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why do good things happen to shitty people?” “If God really loves me, why can’t I keep an erection?” And the like.

My apartment was burglarized recently (or burglered, if you prefer), and those enterprising thieves relieved me of my iMac and brand new Canon SLR camera and lens. Oh, the drama! And the horror! What’s most tremendously frustrating is all the thousands of pictures that were stored on my computer (which I hadn’t backed up on an external hard drive). Pictures I’ve been taking of the city since February and its mass of details. Pictures of random subway passengers, mannequins in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman, mosaics in Williamsburg, dusty church marquees in Bed Sty, the proud owner of the Jesus tire repair shop a few blocks from my home. Also gone are the folded hands of my grandmother as she lay in her casket and the shots of rooms in my grandparent’s home in New Mexico that were taken in an attempt to keep the reality of their everyday lives from retreating into indistinct past.

One friend wrote in an email: “I strongly believe that for every bad thing that happens to us, there is an amazing thing to match it. That being said, you have some great days ahead of you so brace yourself for goodness.” But this sort of viewpoint makes me wonder: Is there similarly an awful thing to match every good one that happens to us? If so, then perhaps my remarkably blessed life was due for some ass-kicking.

Another friend, in an attempt to be comforting (or dismissive), said, “It’s only material things. You’ll always have the memories.” Actually, the whole purpose was to capture what the memory cannot contain. With photography, I’m able to isolate and manipulate, to extract from the context or make the connection undeniable. I could highlight what my eye saw and allow others to see how I viewed the world, which is a combination of idiosyncratic skewering and common banality. And I’m not claiming the world has lost unseen masterpieces (though it has, though it has), but I have lost pieces of myself. I was leaving little markers on the ground as I wandered along, as I evolved, matured, and regressed. These markers allowed me to look back to see where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, what I’ve forgotten. Memories are treasures, but they’re often vague and can lose their once potent impact. A picture is a frozen viewpoint, evidence of a precision imposed.

As irritating as the whole thing has been, it’s only a crisis in a relative sense. And I can’t worry about assigning blame or about demanding recompense because life continues and things are still happening, and I want to be present in the middle of it all.

So, boys and girls, today’s lesson is remember that you must always never, ever take one single moment of…. No, that wasn’t it. The lesson is that if you trust with your heart, angels will stand guard of… No. That can’t be right. Ahhh yes! The lesson for today is that when food hits the floor, you have 10 seconds before it goes bad…or is it 5? Oh never mind.