“i tell you this
to break your heart,
by which i mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.”
– mary oliver
the best thing i ever did for myself was to declare an end to perfect. i cut the ties around my feet and set them free, danced as i watched them fly away. well, not really, but every layer of expectation covering my heart is one keeping me from growing a bigger one. my whole life i swam against the current, way too deep, with too much pressure, holding my breath the whole time. there was no light. i could never have taken pictures there. and i never want to.
we are all finding the way to our stories. we share the world with our children, we keep memories, we make pictures, we write, we draw the arc of our days and loves, we take hard won lessons and put them to work. remembering is part of paying attention. when we take note of what the stuff of our lives is all about, we know how we want to frame it. we are collecting experience whether we are awake or pretending. the dark and twisty things are a part of me. they are the black lines woven into the colors i wear, but they make the rainbow stand out. yes, we are all telling a story, and we choose the light to shine onto it. there have been days, years of mine when it felt like a tragedy. now there are shadows, and they haunt me with the weight of memory, and i am grateful for every one. picking up a camera is taking a stance on how i will remember. we all do it, but we can choose to do it with care and honesty and purpose. it can actually give a new shape to life.
i am a full on believer in peripheral vision. head on, things are usually too bright, too much. i know a picture will mean something when i am taking it. i feel it opening up something inside, shaking things loose, making room for something new. these pictures come from looking at something i know sideways, from the inside out, the shadows, the shape. otherwise, it would be the same picture, over and over. we could perfect it, get it right, have a plan about what things should look like, but that kind of picture will never set something free, will never be a revelation. life lets itself in without an invitation. the beauty isn’t often just spread out, perfectly clear, for the taking. we have to find it, to search, to rescue it from beneath the shells we build. it may hurt, it may break us open, but we have to break open to bloom.
it is a good day when i laugh and cry. the way these passing scenes pierce us, they let us know we are alive. i know myself in a different way, now that i can look back from a distance. returning to see the people we were with new eyes, bigger hearts, it lets us flow freely, to feel the gravity of where we need to be. my kids are learning to weave it all together as it comes. we talk about how feeling is as real as seeing. there story is going to be a deep one. with pictures.