Photographer Bruce Davidson took this photo of a teenaged girl holding a kitten 50 years ago. Now as he receives the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award, he would like to find the subject. As he was interviewed, the line that made me smile was this first sentence of the life he imagined for her:
“Let’s hope she became a writer or an artist. Hopefully, she has a full life, and not a life on the street. She was carrying a sleeping bag with her when I met her. I don’t know. Maybe she has a daughter, or even granddaughter that looks just like her and is holding another cat. . . . ”
Did anyone hope you would become a writer or artist? And was that person a successful artist proving it can be done? If not, enjoy his encouragement. Let’s hope you do grow up to be a writer or an artist.
Between sharing two of her own polished pieces, poet Sarah Kay shares her own creative emergence and that of her students. She suggests listing ten things you know to be true. Try it. See what you could write that only you could write.
Sarah’s also a great example of reaching out for mentoring and passing that on.
“Peace comes about when one party recognizes the narrative of an antagonistic party and sees its point. Peace presumes the capacity of one party to enter in some way into the experience of another.”
— James Carroll, author of Jerusalem, Jerusalem*
Many of you know I’m on a mission to encourage every citizen of this planet to write your story.
You don’t have to publish it if you don’t want to.
Some stories are content to curl up in a hearthside chair and rock a grandchild to sleep. They send personal messages to your descendants who won’t have the pleasure of knowing you.
Other stories scream from the rooftops for freedom and justice.
Sharing our stories inspires deep empathy, allowing us to–as James Carroll puts it–“enter in some way into the experience of another.”
And even before sharing, the writing process itself opens us to new perspectives. Writing is both cathartic and nourishing. We release pain and receive inspiration. We might empathize with the person we used to be, make sense of familiar patterns, and find beauty and meaning in places we never supposed that we could.
Write for peace: first for yourself, and then for another–in the present or the future–and maybe for the world.
In my childhood, I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. In my young adulthood, I heard the Challenger explosion by radio. Now I’m raising a rocket scientist. I will never take a successful launch or landing for granted. I hold my breath. I cheer.
In this concluding Discovery mission, dramatic launch decisions had to be made during the countdown. I don’t think I could do that. I hesitate to press “Publish” on my blog posts. So I celebrate the more courageous among us.
And I share someone’s YouTube home video instead of the official ones. NASA spokespeople are stoic. They depend on us to do the cheering.