I love Sally Mann’s response when asked what the mission of an artist is.
“There’s the paradox: we see the beauty and we see the dark side of things; the cornfields and the full sails, but the ashes as well. The Japanese have a word for this dual perception: mono no aware. It means something like “beauty tinged with sadness.” How is it that we must hold what we love tight to us, against our very bones, knowing we must also, when the time comes, let it go?”
Last night, in my writing class, we read an article about Joe Bell in the NY Times.
He lost his son to suicide because he was bullied in school, even though he had a very abundant circle of friends and dreams to study fashion. Being thrown against the wall and spit at became intolerable, as it would for any living being. The father, distraught and heartbroken, decided to walk across the country to remember his son. He posted to facebook, met up with people along the way, camped out under the stars, and just walked.
One evening, a truck driver fell asleep on the road and hit Mr. Bell. He did not survive.
We are drawn to stories where “ordinary people are doing extraordinary things,” my teacher, Susan Hartman, says. Oftentimes loss or a thread of sadness is involved in the stories that are most memorable to us. Without that, we may not feel as connected to what we are reading, and our experience while reading may not feel as profound. This is because we want to see the dark side just as much as the beauty – just as Sally Mann said. It’s simple, we are wired to connect with each other, and the way we connect best is through empathy. We recognize each others pain and even feel the pain ourselves for a moment when we uncover powerful stories of the human spirit. I just think it is a beautiful thing and had to share after finding the quote above and connecting it to the conversation about writing we had in class last night. I would love to hear your thoughts?
Here are some photos I have been taking either on my way to work or on my way home. I seem to arrive when the sun is rising and leave when the sun sets these days. The first photo I took last night before going into class.
sunrise, sohosunset, view from my officessunrise, soho