On releasing expectations

On releasing expectations

I’m trying to travel light next week for Vortext, a lovely writer’s salon hosted by Hedgebrook and the Whidbey Institute on an island just outside Seattle. I drew the Hanged Man this week as I started packing in earnest, an apt reminder to approach the task with — wait for it — non-attachment. I’m always afraid I’ll forget something I need!

On a deeper level, the card is an invitation to enter this writing retreat without placing too much pressure on that time, rare as such a getaway is for me. Not that there isn’t opportunity in the everyday to do some kind of writing — I’m passionate about supporting other writers in cultivating windows, large and small, for their practice — but three days devoted solely to that work is something to be relished.

The golden hour

The golden hour

I met the photographer Sam Abell years ago when I was a summer intern at the National Geographic Society. He was giving a talk at an intern lunch that led to an invitation to dinner and a long, lovely conversation about how we make, not take, photographs. The image is absolutely in the eye of the beholder as much as the camera also allows us to capture the “truth” of a moment (it happened; here’s the proof).

After so many years, I still return to Sam’s work, a study not in golden moments but more often in the deeply saturated tones that only emerge after light fades. It feels like an apt metaphor to be looking for luminous word-images in my end-of-year reflections not just in a fiery afternoon glow but also as twilight settles. It’s not as easy to discern what’s there, but after some time, the eyes adjust. And so does the truth.

On rewriting our legacies

On rewriting our legacies

A dream last month reminded me that the idea of legacy is at the heart of the story I started writing seven years ago — of my parents’ story and mine, and now that I have my daughter, of mine and hers. Until I find the truth that writing this story will allow me to tell, part of me fears that my legacy to her will be just as burdensome as the one I was given: the example of a marriage that begs so many questions without answers to any of the what-ifs and whys.