I hope every writer who speaks to children–and you are all amazing–will one day speak to them of love, hope, and justice. I hope every reader will touch a book and come away more whole, and more ready to bring peace to a better world.
As much of the country experiences unseasonable cold, it’s 80 degrees and climbing in Western Kentucky. The sun is out, but rain clouds keep sneaking across the blue sky. They’re trying to gather in the corners and get organized. I expect it’ll be pouring by this afternoon.
I’m seven weeks post left knee replacement, and thankfully, the whole surgical experience is beginning to feel like a distant memory. I want it even more distant, and I want my physical and emotional reserves to come back online. I want that yesterday. I want a long stretch of just being able to live, without thinking about how I get out of a chair, how I walk, whether or not I’ll be able to sleep, and my overall health. The thing is, that level of improvement takes time. It takes time, and rest, and restoration, and increasing distance from the event–without new events intruding to drain down the strength and resistance I’ve been able to build.
This week, I’ve been pondering extending this metaphor to our national consciousness as we grapple with the politics of inclusion and exclusion, institutionalized racism and discrimination, and letting go of what “always has been” in favor of what could be, and perhaps what should be. With the 24-hour (30-second, it seems) news cycle, the internet, and social media, many people–especially people on the front lines–never have the time time to rest and restore. There is always another situation occurring, another injustice to address, another assault, another attack. The people being attacked never have the luxury of letting down their guard. They never have the space to breathe.
With this in mind, I have a new mission in my writing, amongst all the others I’ve developed over the years of tapping keys and weaving tales. I want to create books that give people–all people–that space to breathe. I want people who need respite to be able to lose themselves in my stories for five minutes, for one hour, for a few days–for however long they can, however long they need.
I think we as children’s writers, can play a key role in provoking quiet thought, in suppporting positive change, and in illuminating peaceful paths to both rest and restoration.
I am proud to report that 42 days following left total knee replacement, I’m discharged from the doctor, cleared from physical therapy, and returned to work (went back around the 30 day mark). Still a lot of home exercise to go–but the big hill is now in my rearview. Best of all, I AM BACK IN MY HAMMOCK!
Today, the view is out into the woods behind the house, which I suppose are properly called a forest, since no light gets from sky to ground in most sections. Our little stretch of Kentucky backwoods is unique in that it has been settled, then abandoned at least twice. On my land, we have an old cemetery with very old gravestones bearing very long German-sounding names–circa 1700-1800. We assume these to be Amish folks, who then moved farther south into Christian County for better farm land (where the Amish communities now thrive). Subsistance farmers took over the fallow area, then in the 1940’s and 1950’s, struck oil (yes, that television show wasn’t kidding, those of you old enough to remember). The wealthy people went on their way, leaving our area to deer and turkey hunters–and nutty pseudo-hippie cabin dwellers like us.
As a result, along the single lane twisty road that leads to my house, there’s a mix of cleared land, wild land, and land that’s turning wild again–but with whispers of human caretaking from years gone by. While I labored through the rehab process, winter became spring. To give everyone a break from politics, strife, worrying, and the concerns of the modern world, I’m posting shots I took while driving the last two miles to my house, and as I walked up the sidewalk.
Happy Spring 2015, from the Bluegrass State!