Truth

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 re-visioning our truth

On re-visioning our truth

The biggest challenge for me in writing memoir is that my view of the past is constantly being rewritten by the present.

As soon as I think I know what an essay is really about, life has a way of introducing new circumstances that make me reconsider my perspective. The truth the story is meant to illuminate is suddenly no longer true. Not the who, what, where, and when — though those do sometimes prove inaccurate when memory and research are laid side by side. It’s the why that refuses to stay put, always wandering onto the page with an invisible asterisk attached. The implied footnotes are the conditions, the qualifications that allow this truth to remain, for now.