Grandma said, “Let her be.” I heard this, from the time I was very small, it gave me permission. The messages to be good, to be quiet, to settle down, to stop it, and to not do that were also heard but the most important message was to let her be. This message was directed at parents who were working hard to raise me to be a responsible and good person, and mostly I have been. But I seem to be listening mostly to Grandma these days.
Let her be. What a strong message. Be. Feels as strong as God telling us “I am.” These messages can’t be more concise or clearer. They ring like crystal.
I spent some time reading Freeman Patterson last night, his book Embracing Creation about the art of photography. I am intrigued with his thoughts about how what we choose to photograph can be used to better understand who we are and what we desire from our lives. He writes about those special places that feel like home – not structures but places in the world where we feel ageless. Where we are a child, an adult, and also very old. Places that are timeless.
Docks on small inland lakes have made their way into many of my photographs. This dock was taken yesterday morning, at the boat launch at Portage Lake; Grandma lived on the other side of this small lake. My favorite place to be was lying on my tummy on the dock in early morning. The diamonds sparkling on the calm water as minnows tickled my fingers that dangle oh-so-still in the water. The warmth of the sun is welcome in the lingering coolness of the night. In these minutes my eight-year-old body is ageless, I have the curiosity and innocence of childhood and the wisdom of age. I am one with the world, and the world is good. My 70-year-old body is still ageless as I feel myself on this dock. I can be.
Aging is strange. I know I don’t have long to live, maybe 10 to 15 years. This length of time felt so long when my body was young and I was growing, developing. Now that my body is declining I don’t long for the future, at least not the future as we measure time in years. I wonder if my activities of today could be my best moments? I realize that my future is uncertain.
Does choosing to photograph this dock, does the echo of Grandma’s words in the shadows of my mind mean that I am yearning for something? Maybe I am yearning to be. Maybe I am yearning to be as I am, as I am 70, instead of as I was in some past time. Lately I have been finding joy in being as I fold laundry, make the bed, can tomatoes, read, blog, garden. How wonderful it is to savor what I am doing instead of fretting about all there is to do and whether my body will let me do it. What joy it is to be, alive in this moment. Yes, Let Her Be.