I know now a story is a container of knowledge. Without realizing, we tell stories as a way to find ourselves. To find our place. Where within this world do I belong? What part of this world knows me?
There is not one spot that is right. That’s Frankie talking outside my office door. He’s pointing to the newly waxed linoleum floor in the lobby. See this area by the potted plant? The liquid wax ran and never got wiped up. See this edging by the column? Looks like the floorist spilled his bucket.
Under a Christmas tree three hours north of here was a gift of photography waiting for me: Annie Leibovitz’s Pilgramage.
You can get lost in the subject of Lincoln, Leibovitz writes. The pages in this book are thick and substantial, and her thoughts allow for many detours. The longer she pursues a shot of Lincoln’s actual cabin, the more she begins to realize perhaps all the cabins where Lincoln once lived are theoretical. And this I understand. On the way to living out your life, you can easily remain an unrecorded woman.
And so what do we do? We work at recording ourselves. Whether or not we write words on a page, or capture them on film or inside a painting, we create a story we will live inside. It’s a risk, or maybe it is a balance. Some stories can be too much and we end up living most fully not in life but on the page.
Time spent with Frankie takes me back to participating in life rather than just observing it. Come to each moment as unprepared as you can manage.
Frankie is in the midst of lifting the latest issue of National Geographic from our lobby when I step outside my office to greet him. One arm reaching down, one hand bracing his lower back, Frankie looks up at me and explains: I’ve lost my ten-pound motion.
I know he’s talking about rehabilitating his upper arm strength, but the poet in me kicks in. I don’t know how long I’ve lived without my own ten-pound motion. Is it time to start writing more? Or time to put down the
Comes a Facebook photo on a cousin’s page. He’s filming in Key West.
Eleven miles off the coast, Hemingway would come to an anchored structure according to the best rumors to relocate and write. The shack survived how many hurricanes and foul weather, but didn’t survive the lit match from drunken teenagers. These four stilts mark a spot where Hemingway once stepped inside his stories.
(Thank you, Andy George, for the stirring photo!)