Monday, February 15, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 46

Taken: February 15, 2010, approx. 2:15 p.m.
Location: Lambert Bridge, Healdsburg, CA

This isn't the Russian River. It's actually Dry Creek just below Lambert Bridge. I used to cross this bridge every day on the way to and from the place we used to rent. It's a beautiful little spot -- the bridge is a tiny one compared to the two I keep photographing and putting up here. Oh, and don't worry, plenty more of these bridges 'round wine country. I plan on shooting them all by the end of this project. And nom I didn't violate my policy of sticking close to my daily route. The day drew me out. It was a sparkling blue-sky full of sunshine like sprint was here and I just had to take a drive. Decided do my own Healdsburg circle, which is to head down West Dry Creek, cross Lambert Bridge and go back to down via Dry Creek Road. 
As many times as I've passed this bridge, I've never stopped to get out and look at it. For one, there's almost no where to stop. But I found a turn off and walked back onto the bridge. The view was just lovely.

It was peaceful standing on the bridge, which is just wide enough for only one car to pass. And shaky too -- even as I stood there, the whole bridge rattled under my feet as cars bounced over it. Did I mention I'm afraid of heights? Still, I think it was Stephen King who said writers are always writing, even when they're doing something that's not writing. You know, like standing on a lovely little bridge over a fast-flowing creek on a country road snaking through acres of wine vineyards. Standing and staring. And writing.

I found this quote today from James Lee Burke, one of my favorite authors:
"The most difficult test for me as a writer came during the middle of my career, when, after publishing three novels in New York, I went 13 years without a hardback publication. My novel "The Lost Get-Back Boogie" alone received 110 rejections during nine years of submission, supposedly a record in the industry.  
It was during this period I had to relearn the lesson I had learned at 20, when I worked on the offshore oil crew: you write it a day at a time and let God be the measure of its worth; you let the score take care of itself; and most important, you never lose faith in your vision. God might choose fools and people who glow with neurosis for his partners in creation, but he doesn't make mistakes." 
It was the closing paragraph of a piece he wrote for the NY Times back in December 2002 called "Seeking a Vision of Truth, Guided by a Higher Power."  It was, as I recall, part of a series the Times was running at the time called Writers on Writing. (The full text is on his website.)

For me, there just isn't a more authentic, wiser writer working today than Burke, who's oeuvre is a travelogue through the realm of man and God, good and evil and the awful cost of money and power on the people who seek it and those they trample on to get it. There is no work of fiction, for example, that puts Katrina into more searing perspective than "The Tin Roof Blowdown." He is a master of words and allegory and I would sell my soul to be half the writer he is. (If you haven't read any of his novels, get going. Do yourself a favor and start at the beginning.)

What draws me to his writing isn't just how beautiful it is but it's his fearlessness. He lays bare the flaws of his characters, forcing them to live up (and down) to them, making them face the darkness inside their own hearts. Yes, there's good and evil but there's a lot in between, too. I don't imagine there's any bigger truth about being human, that most of us are tempted by the things we can't control or don't understand, by desire and power, money and prestige, by stuff. Even if we don't give into the evil, we have to face the consequences of what wanting it means about who we are. If we can survive, if we really pay attention, we can do better next time. We can try anyway. 

I like how Burke explores the world with the big, timeless questions of humanity. I'm not big on religion as a rule. Which is not to say I don't like religion. I just don't like the way its sold these days like vacuum cleaners. I won't question you're belief in how you were saved by God but if you try to convince me to follow your path, you'll lose me in a nanosecond.  You believe in God or you don't, one religion or another but for me there's only one way to get there, and it's among the most private, personal journeys you'll ever experience. In my perfect world, religion would be like sex - you do it but you don't talk about it.

Whether I believe in God is beside the point. I do believe in leaps of faith, though. I believe the best of life happens when you put your faith in the void and if organized religion helps you get there, by all means don't let me stop you. My "void" is getting to work every day, putting one word in front of the other, constructing sentences, paragraphs, chapters. Trusting in the electrical impulses that run from my brain to my fingertips, hoping they'll occasionally pass through my heart, that they'll make magic. Just like Jim Burke, I have to relearn the lessons and remember to never lose faith in the vision. Let somebody else judge the results.

Taken with my K100D and edited in Photoshop.

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