set down and saved

“But if something you learn or observe or imagine can be set down and saved, and if you can see your life reflected in previous lives, and can imagine it reflected in subsequent ones, you can begin to discover order and harmony. You know that you are a part of a larger story that has shape and purpose—a tangible, familiar past and a constantly refreshed future. We are all whispering in a tin can on a string, but we are heard, so we whisper the message into the next tin can and the next string. Writing a book is an act of sheer defiance. It is a declaration that you believe in the persistence of memory.”

—Susan Orlean, The Library Book

I found this quote in an article, Growing Up in the Library, in The New Yorker. The essay was adapted from “The Library Book,” by Susan Orlean. I immediately searched my local library for this book and placed a hold. I’m number 43 on the list to borrow one of three books available. It might take a while. But in the meantime, I’ve read and re-read the essay. Partly because the author is losing her mother to dementia and I live this same story. Partly because libraries have always been such a cherished part of our family life, where both of my sons found their footing. And partly because writing a book and taking a picture share the common ground of cataloging and sharing memories.


I’m still playing with film and finding great satisfaction in the making of pictures in this mindful way. There weren’t any prize winners in this recent roll, but there were sweet memories of walks along the streets of my hometown.

Making these pictures is my act of sheer defiance.