Thanks for the Words

Thanks for the Words A smudge was reveled in front of two indentations when I moved my reading chair to the opposite corner of my room. My husband was the first to notice Saying he had carpet cleaner that would erase it. I didn’t respond – but knew this smudge couldn’t be erased, one of countless smudges, where feet have rested over centuries. Where I humbled myself as reader, writer, thinker… learner longing for words to express novel ideas, ancient yearnings. What flourished here disturbed previous certainties and riled emotions; upon this smudge I vacillated between elation and exhaustion. Your hard work nurtured my thinking, inspired and healed me. Your words powered my words. You are a part of me, I took your words in, chewed them up, integrated those that enlarged my brain weave of previous learning and values; and swallowed the rest for later expulsion with other unneeded wastes. I marveled at your effective use of words, well-crafted sentences, plots and arguments that were well constructed. I absorbed new ways of thinking and experimented with your skills. And sometimes I laughed out loud as I read you. Every time I placed my feet on the smudge on the carpet and lowered myself into my reading chair, I entered an exceptional place, occupied by your words. The outcome can’t be erased. Thank you. Patricia Bailey, 2020   I started re-reading Ted Kooser’s “The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice […]

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On Being a Parent

I was watching the kids play on adjacent camp sites, smiling as I listened to the giggles and remembering as I watched the way their bodies moved in strange and fluid ways. It made me very aware of how stiff and achy my body feels – especially in the damp, rainy weather we have been having. Maybe this old frame […]

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Confessions of a Stuck Photographer

I used to tell students to not be afraid of stuckness – and they looked at me like I had become senile or just crazy. I went on to explain that being stuck is when we have tried everything we know to do and give up. Giving up seems to allow us to free our minds to find a solution. I learned about the joy of stuckness in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, way back when… Learning something new is always hard, it takes work and the path to knowing is rocky. If we never feel stuck, if we never feel lost, if we never feel overwhelmed by all there is to know, if we believe we already know everything there is to know – we aren’t engaged and learning. To be vital and alive we always need to be at the leading edge of our learning curve. Anywhere else leads to boredom and stagnation. I am stuck, but not enjoying my stuckness very much. If there are any prior students of mine out there reading this, I understand the evil looks you sent me because stuckness isn’t fun. I don’t think I’ll ever become a really good photographer. There I’ve said it as I’m fighting back tears. I’ve been working at it for 6 months – I should know what I’m doing. And if anyone dares respond that they have been doing it for 6 years and still […]

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