Week 7, by Joan Sherwood
Here we go!
Mark Nepo is challenging me so much. I love it, and I know I could spend a year reading and processing this book. I feel an urge to stop with each sentence and talk to someone about it. Thank you Tracey for the opportunity to share this experience with this wonderful group.
In the section Living a Making, I love the opening quote by Ansel Adams.
The professional photographer takes assignments from “without”…the creative photographer takes assignments from “within”. The conflict from assignments – from “without” verses those from “within” often perplexes the serious photographer.
Nepo follows with the difference between making a living; how we survive and living a making; how we thrive. He writes, “we are most alive and happiest while loving and creating, continually shaped by our total involvement.”
During my teenage angst, I spent a good deal of time with a Kodak 110 camera photographing the sunsets. There is a park a few blocks from my childhood home that overlooks the Mississippi River. I had hundreds of photos of sunsets. When I had to choose a college, a degree, a career, I unfortunately did not choose photography. Although my parents bought me a Nikon for graduation, they also encouraged me to choose a path to “make a living”. So, I have a Marketing degree and an MBA, with which I made a living. However, looking through a lens has always been and remains where I love to live a making. I spent some of my college years in a darkroom and all of my children’s soccer games far away from the parents on the bleachers, looking through my Nikon.
In the section Looking at Life Together, again the opening quote!
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin
There are more examples of this for me than I care to dig up. The one that resonates at this time involves my children. For the most part, my children have been close, even though their ages are not. In the last few years, there seems to be more criticizing of each other. Although I know this happens, it breaks my heart. I fight the need to defend whoever is being criticized. It is the fact that they will not address it with the person with whom they are critical, they just tell me or the other siblings. It makes me crazy. I can see that it is themselves that they need to confront. It has nothing to do with the other person, but that is a hard lesson to learn. It’s the old “noticing the speck in the stranger’s eye and ignoring the log in our own”. In full disclosure, I have lots of logs in my eyes!
Nepo’s exercise of examining the harshness and beauty braided around me in the world and bearing witness to the truth is quite challenging for me. I will go with the obvious current subject of 2020/21, which is COVID. I refer to it as the global pandemic, and others to refer to it in a variety of ways; the CCP virus, the flu, the vaccine is the mark of the beast, and some people refuse to acknowledge that it exists at all. The harshness with which people are treating one another is shocking. The last 18 months for me can be described as the good, the bad, and the ugly. Several of my children work in the medical field, and it has been a very stressful place for them. My husband was suffering from renal failure, which made him extremely vulnerable. His health was worsening, the kids were stressed out at what they were seeing in the hospitals and scared to be around us. Now add in a son getting engaged and planning a wedding. My husband’s condition was getting worse, and I had/have family members who find it inconvenient to wear a mask. I could go on and on. Instead, I will fast forward to my husband getting on the transplant list, me being tested and determined to be a compatible match for him, and successful transplant surgeries on July 8.
So, in the midst of the harshness going on inside and outside our family, we found the beauty.
In the section, The Power of Art, the story of the mugging and its moving someone to write a poem rather than stop the mugging is a frighteningly accurate example of current life. As Nepo writes, we separate ourselves from the life going on around us to comment on it. Today on the Neighborhood App, someone posted a Nest video of a woman screaming at 4:00 a.m. this morning. The comment was, “I hope someone helped this woman.” What?!! We document the hell out of our lives and comment ad nauseam. We may be forgetting the part where we engage with others in actual life.
Although the last section was Drifting in the Immensity, and it was as beautiful as the other sections this week, I will close with a quote from The Power of Art because it is remarkable.
During his imprisonment, Solzhenitsyn composed all twelve thousand lines of the poem, writing a few lines each day on a bar of soap and memorizing them as his daily shower washed the lines away.
What struck you about this week’s reading?
Save the date
What: Mid-way Zoom meeting
When: Sunday, October 24 at 1 pt/3 ct/4 et
Zoom link will be emailed to you ahead of time. Reminder: there will be no reading assignment or post for the week of Oct. 21 so you can spend some time that week thinking about what you’d like to discuss on the Zoom.
The duration of the zoom is dependent on the conversation, but you should feel free to hop off when necessary.
Preparing for the zoom
I hope you’ll spend some time this coming week to review the book thus far. Remind yourself of the earlier sections and what really struck you. Pick 1 thing that is striking your heart, that you’d like to bring into discussion with the group. If you’d rather, you can email me and I can introduce the topic to the group.
Please alert me ahead of time if you need to hop off early, or can’t make it. I don’t want to be the only person getting on Zoom that day!
Any other thoughts/suggestions for our group meeting are welcome. I will not be recording this session and we will remember to keep the confidence of the conversation off social media.
- Week #8 <<<Break>>> pause to prepare for Zoom discussion, Oct. 21
- Week #9 Listening through Love Your Window, Eva Tsoureka, Oct. 28
A link will remain here to week 1 in case anyone wants to review the spearheading guidance. Week 1.