I chase light like I chase color, and the Fall light in the Colorado Rockies is my favorite. I try not to miss the alpenglow sliding across the peaks every evening. This ritual is worth the pause. I cherish these last vibrations of summer, the otherworldly Fall color before daylight savings brings an early night and a different rhythm.
A dear friend once quipped that I have a very slow rate of reveal. It’s true --I am an odd blend of being private and transparent. I don’t volunteer much in person, more in my art and writing, but am happy to do so when asked. I have all of the traits of a classic introvert but am genuinely curious about people when I meet them. I know my own story, so I want to hear from others.
“For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.“
- Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Not long ago, I was wedged between two men at a dinner party. They were, as another friend puts it, in transmit mode. I listened to them expound about their successes, their connections, and their determination to get their kids into the Ivies. Normally these conversations have me scheming for an early exit, but these days I try to look at all exchanges as information, even the exasperating ones. As they rolled out their theories on everything, I receded from view and their conversation, and was left to my own reflections.
I thought about how our culture relies on outside sources to evaluate people before we even meet them in the flesh. We make assumptions, we Google, we look at people’s social media, and we rely on hearsay like in a Jane Austen novel (Mr. Darcy is worth 20,000 pounds!) And these information snapshots often guide us on when and how to engage with people. I have certainly been guilty of taking these shortcuts, of stepping into this singular type of laziness. Lately, I think this rush to reduce people to Cliffs Notes is getting worse. And the cancel culture has become judge, jury, and executioner.
If we dig online, we see a rather grotesque reflection of ourselves. For example, according to my algorithm, I like animal tee-shirts (not remotely), baby goats (absolutely), traveling to Croatia (my trip there pre-dated the internet and the horrific wars when Croatia was Yugoslavia), and garden tools (true).
There is nothing in my Google search that suggests that I like watching the evening light. That I work in the company of flatulent dogs in my studio. That I love reading essays. That I adore Steve Earle’s way with notes and lyrics. That being an artist for me is a deep-rooted gravitational pull. That I am melancholy about this empty nest. That I want to publish a book of essays. That I worry on a constant loop about a myriad of things. That the garden is my therapist. That I don’t have to understand everything. That I love talking to the youngest person in the room.
All of us are tucked away from view in one way or another, and it takes perseverance to get below the surface and to learn about the divine and the mundane, and usually, it’s worth the effort. Rebecca Solnit wrote, “what escapes categorization can escape detection altogether.” She is prodding us to be more patient, to keep curious in a world that doesn’t know what to do with process, with blurred edges or uncertainty. Or a slow rate of reveal.