Everything Touches Everything

The first two books I finished since the New Year were Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Mary Oliver’s American Primitive. Aside from choosing “lighter” reads for the summer, I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally chosen books for a season before…but I might have to rethink that. There was something so perfect about reading Jane Eyre in the winter (so perfect about finally reading Jane Eyre, period!). And, though Mary Oliver’s poetry features all the seasons, something about the winter poems in American Primitive sang to me.

One of them, “Clapp’s Pond” included this stanza:

How sometimes everything

closes up, a painted fan, landscapes and moments

flowing together until the sense of distance–

say, between Clapp’s pond and me–

vanishes, edges slide together

like the feathers of a wing, everything

touches everything.”

Mary Oliver, “Clapp’s Pond”

I don’t know what, exactly, causes this phenomenon, but that sense of distance collapsing– between experiences, influences, memories– is moving, and beautiful, and profound.

Maybe it’s because I resent the advice I received in high school and college (focus on one thing! specialize! excel!) that I take pleasure in subverting that instruction now (though I admit the transition between living by that advice and letting go of it required a bit of a beautiful disaster). Life is unpredictable, and messy, and fascinating, and everything touches everything anyway, so I try to follow my sense of wonder over anyone else’s flowchart to “success.”

I especially give my wonder free rein when it comes to: learning, reading, writing, making, trying…

Since the New Year, I’ve been doing a 365 photography project. My hope is to do it all under the theme of nature and wildlife, but we’ll see… Just over a week in, I remember what I love about the rhythm of shooting (at least) a photo every day. The chronicle of the year is nice, but that comes later; what I love is the delicious practice of momentary stillness, seeing, and creating daily.

Showing up for that, day after day, influences and inspires so much else, unlimited to photography. Curiosity, engagement, and gratitude connect so much together…and life is all the better for it.

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