It’s been a difficult few months for me, seeing so much pain and sorrow in civil rights exhibits and reading more of the same in histories, biographies, and in essays and books. I’ve immersed myself in hard truths about our country, our history, and, in the end, about myself and my white privilege and inherent racism. It’s work I needed to do and work I need to continue doing. As Fannie Lou Hamer stated, Nobody is free until everybody is free.
I realized yesterday, though, that I need to take a break and do something different to balance things out. To balance me out. (And, yes, I realize as a result of all this work I’ve done that being able to “take a break” from learning about and confronting racism is white privilege in action.)
I pulled out my huge book on the photographer Sally Mann (it’s a coffee-table book that must weigh 10 pounds). I read some and looked at her images, and once again, got inspired by her work. I took out Sony camera and the decades-old Minolta lens — such heavy glass that makes such beautiful softness — and went outside to the bare branches and bleak sky of an early spring afternoon in northern Alabama.
I took some quick shots, maybe ten minutes in total, then went back inside. I lost myself in post-processing, not even realizing that the sun had sunk below the hills and evening had come.
I’ve been absorbing so much information the last few months and I am not yet sure how to process it or if anything public will come out of it. I’ve not posted much about it because I haven’t figured out what to say or how. One side effect, I realized this week, is that I hadn’t been creating very much, and that’s where I find my passion on a regular basis. The few hours at Sloss Furnaces became the start of remembering how much joy I get out of doing a photo shoot and then writing and publishing it here.
I’m heading up to Virginia for a women’s writing retreat next weekend and the timing couldn’t be better. I need to get out of my own head and three days spent with 20 other women who write can only be a good thing. It’s time to get back in touch with my writing side and see where that road goes.
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.