“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
– Mary Oliver
taking pictures is all about listening. listening with our whole selves, our eyes, ears, heart, our own memories. it is about knowing when to pay attention, hearing the whispers that keep secrets, looking for light that makes magic. it is about listening to ourselves. the more i hear the rhythms and frailty and truths of my own story, the more i am open to the undercurrents of others’. listening is the first step in compassion, which must be the heart of what i do.
but we are talkers, my kids and i. we meet people wherever we go – the taco place, the mail carrier, the elderly couple that stops and notices my son’s hat, the kid who is having a hard time in the shopping cart in front of ours…and this beautiful, living practice, gifted down from my heart of gold mother, is the start of every single picture i make. it is not about a plan, an agenda, a formula for making people feel easy about being in their own skin. it is about caring, giving everyone a chance to be heard. it is about passing the light from person to person, mind to mind, heart to heart. it is about having something to SAY, and someone to say it to.
last week, i found myself alone in my car, headed to an appointment without either child in the back seat. this is a rarity, like a thunderstorm in january…i realized i could make the music as loud as i had liked it for years, and i felt it, and watched the land and trees and cars move past me like a movie. or like the pictures i could be taking. and with that different kind of quiet, i realized how without them as my external heartbeats, how dark and twisty the world felt, suddenly. how dark and twisty parts of me still are, tied with thin strings to the self that i was before them. and i listened. and at that moment i vowed to turn back and inward. i need to listen to and remember the low and mournful sounds that might be made in harmony with the sweet music all around me now. the story of how i got to this place, the sadness and shifts and fight that it took to feel this way, to break out of boxes made by someone else, to run and find the peace that allows me to look back – it is WHY i feel this way. so i will tie a line around my waist and wade into the dark, knowing the light in front of me. listening to the echoes, paying attention to the shadows, my eyes are so sensitive to the light.
remember your own stories, and give people a chance to tell theirs. everything that i am now is about my kids and the one they are reading to me. i listen to the love. it does not fail.