Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Finding hope in the dark

This painting on a small wood plate is called "Night" and was created by Katrin Wiese, the same artist who painted "The Three Fates" of a previous post. I photographed it up close to get the detail.
What drew me to this? I feel like I could be that little girl, venturing into the unknown night, protecting the goose's eggs, at ease with a bear at her side. Bears have often barged into my dreams. In one of the most memorable dreams I asked for and got permission to borrow a baby bear. So while I wouldn't try that in the real world, it was magical in dreamland.
One more alluring thing about this painting, that alert horse and goose look just like bronze animals my father brought home long ago from what was then Czechoslovakia. I loved to play with them, imaging worlds that were mine alone to visit and explore.
All of which brings me to memories. It seems to be what we treasure most. And it made me think of the people who had to evacuate the monster wildfire above Los Angeles. The ravenous beast, 25-miles-wide and 18-miles-deep, has consumed houses, cars, motorcycles, pine trees, sycamores, manzanita, rabbits, squirrels and, may they rest in peace, two firefighters. Terrifying and out-of-control, these wildfires sometimes leave people with little time to grab what they can and flee. It's the memories, the photos and heirlooms, they want to keep.
If a fire or storm or earthquake consumed all the photos of my family members, the china they raised to their lips, the Persian rugs they walked upon until threadworn, the golden rings and silver bracelets they wore, would I drown in tears? Or would I board a little boat on a salty sea and search for wonder in the night?
Perhaps that is the gift writers can give the world--a sense of hope in the dark.


Tess said...

I agree. As writers, we let people know they are not alone. We share their emotions and experiences and fears and dreams through our characters. It is very important stuff.

Robyn Campbell said...

A sense of hope in the dark. Very profound Tricia. It reminds me that after Katrina, folks began clinging to books more to erase the fear. Especially children. So it is in life. :)

Donna said...

And it is the gift we give ourselves as we write our stories, both real and imagined.

Is the bear in the painting holding a cub like the child is holding the goose's eggs? Perhaps these are symbolic of the future. And, how interesting that two of the creatures are looking behind them, the rest looking forward, and the child calm as she looks to the side. I guess we need to look in all directions for that sense of hope and wonder.

PJ Hoover said...

It sometimes takes these life threatening things to make us realize how little the material things matter.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Tess: It is those deeper layers I am trying to develop in my work. I know they are there, but the skill is finding how to give them clarity and make them a seamless part of the story.

Robyn: I believe books are more important to children than we even realize.

Donna: So true. I think it is what drives us to write, really. Yes, the bear is holding a cub. I love the way that picture makes me feel.

PJ: I've been struggling with too much accumulation. I think material stuff actually can bind us and keep us from seeing what truly matters.

storyqueen said...

Tricia, I am going to save this post. It's really lovely. It speaks to what we all want to do with writing, but also of the deep courage it takes.

I will think about this post for a long time, I think.


MG Higgins said...

Glorious -- both your lyrical post and that magical painted plate. I would like to think I'd board the little boat and search for wonder.

Nancy O'Connor said...

This is a lovely and profound piece of writing, and it strikes a chord with me, as I have gotten pleasantly side-tracked with memories myself recently. I, too, love the multiple viewpoints of the fellow travelers on the boat. One never knows from whence inspiration will come.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mel: Thanks, I really do love that plate. I guess I should have said artists as well as writers can give hope in darkness.

Nancy: Thank you! I love your memoir writing.

Stephanie Faris said...

I guess no matter what happens, no one can take away your memories. But some people do put their most precious valuables in a safe deposit box somewhere. Or at least in a fireproof safe.