Photo by Amber--I'm with Natalie, my fearless traveling companion, on a black sand beach. You can't see it in the photo, but there is huge sea turtle lounging on the sand just behind me.
I keep going back to an article in The Sun Magazine (December, 2007)by Heather Sellers, reflecting on her writing mentor, English professor Jerry Stern, who used to send her out on "errands," such as picking up a visiting writer from the airport or a book at the library. According to Jerry, these mundane tasks were an opportunity for awakening if you pay attention.
"He sent me on errands, and when I returned, he wanted to know, he needed to know: 'What did you notice? What was interesting?' He taught me that all writers are essentially travel writers. The trip hadn't really taken place until you'd found a story in it and told it. Only after shaping the trip into a narrative could you honestly say 'I'm back.'"
I love the idea of "errands" especially here in my new context, where I feel that thousands of stones remain unturned. And how I relish the project of turning them!
Heather Sellers also has some wonderful words about teaching and writing and living, which made me think of my friend Rachel, an amazing teacher in her own right.
"This is what we forget as teachers: how close the poor student often is to doing good work, and how great the distance feels to her between who she is and who she could be. We forget how painful it is to be between selves; how all of us, always, are between selves, and it is in that desolate gap that everything true and useful is happening."
What a hopeful idea. And I think it is hope, ultimately, that Jerry Stern offered his students. He offered them a reason to keep going deeper into the experience, with heart and eyes wide open. And it was this idea, especially, that helped Heather Sellers survive her first major depression:
"Burrow into what's interesting--in you, and in everyone else. Every moment on the planet has juice to yield. Everything is interesting if you truly want to know about it. Staying awake to that was the key to staying alive."
Posted by Jenny at 10:52:00 PM