Ashley Bryan died this week. He was 98 and a brilliant artist, writer, and human who lived on an island in Maine near us and was the keynote speaker at a book festival we had. In a 2017 Horn Book interview with Roger Sutton and Nikki Giovanni, he said,
If someone says they are taking my time — that's the one thing you never can take. I have to offer it. Time is of the moment, and the moment is all I have. If that moment isn't precious to me, then I'm not living. Nothing is more important or precious to me right now than both of us talkingAshley Bryan
Ashley also said in that same interview
I love poetry. It's at the heart of everything I do. Poetry transforms what we call language, and uses language as the stuff to become something else. I get spun around by what happens in words. When that occurs, it inspires images that seem so original to me as an artist, even though I'm following what the poem has offered.
So, I, Carrie was a bit heartbroken by this, not just because Ashley Bryan like me goes out in public with paint on his sweater (as you see in a photo on our blog taken when he was at the book festival), but because Ashley was such a light in this world. He seemed to get it--to not just rejoice in the moment, but to also rejoice in the twists to the moments.
In a New York Times article from 2020 entitled "Why Mundane Moments Matter," Simran Sethi writes
Although we, as a culture, typically favor the superlative, research shows that moonlight, and everything that is revealed in ordinary moments of our life, matters. Valuing the routine enriches our lives in ways we do not expect, because “how we spend our days,” the author Annie Dillard reminds us, “is how we spend our lives.”Sethi
You can hold onto the past and get bitter or sorrowful. You can project into the future and fill it with worry, but the moment you are in right now. That is your moment. You want to try to actually experience it fully, breathe it in. Be freaking alive in it, be present.
And Ashley got that. He expressed that in his love for community, for moments, for twists, for poetry, and in his art. In another interview with the Horn Book, he said to Sutton.
It is an urgency that is fundamental, and the essence is the same. It's the urgency to discover something about ourselves in every work we make. I make no distinction between doing a block print, a collage, a watercolor, a tempera painting. To me it's an effort to discover something of myself that I do not know and have not done. So each effort is like that of the child going out in the morning, making discoveries and having adventures.Ashley Bryan
We hope you find that too--that discovery--that fundamental essence in your moments and in your self.
When you allow yourself to lean into the moments rather than always bemoaning the lack of celebrity-endorsed superlatives, you get to enjoy those twists, those bits, those things you might not normally see. How cool is that, really?DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Live in the moment.Link we mention in our Random Thoughts
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You'll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.
Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That's a lot!
The other night Shaun and I imbibed some alcohol and I declared that to not have a who-gives-a-swear-word attitude is to be compliant. This made Shaun really happy. I said it because I was talking about authors and politics and being afraid to say what you think because you are afraid of backlash. I’ve been listening to a lot of entrepreneurs and marketers who all preach putting your authentic self out there so that your group of supporters are supporting the real you, not some fake, shadow version that’s trying to appeal to everyone. Shaun said “Google authors who struggled and said, ‘F-it, did a 360, and found success.” This was hard to do, actually. There was no nice search results for that. But one thing it brought up was the infamous book called, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*&k.” In the article of the same name (Link is in the podcast notes), Mark Manson wrote, “Chances are you know somebody in your life who, at one time or another, did not give a f- and went on to accomplish amazing feats. Perhaps there was a time in your life where you simply did not give a f- and excelled to some extraordinary heights. I know for myself, quitting my day job in finance after only six weeks and telling my boss that I was going to start selling dating advice online ranks pretty high up there in my own “didn’t give a f-” hall of fame. Same with deciding to ...
It actually works. Back in 1862 Duchenne De Boulogne noticed that certain muscles in our face engaged whenever we were joyous. It was an involuntary reaction of our cheek muscles, the zygomatic major, and the orbicularis oculi. That’s a muscle right in front of our temples and below our eye. And when those cheek muscles and that special little muscle engage? That’s when we smile. The weird thing is this is a human universal. It happens all over the world despite gender, sex, culture, race, etc. The weird thing is that if we make ourselves smile like this, with those muscles engaged, we actually usually start to feel happier. The process reverses. There’s a guy who teaches the Introduction the Art of Happiness at a Harvard X class, Arthur Brooks, who has an experiment where you take a pencil and hold it between your teeth and you keep it there for 45 seconds. Do it. Seriously. When you do this you flex those muscles in your cheeks and your heart rate starts to decrease and your stress in your body? It starts to release. What does that mean? It means that happiness is a shared condition of humans around the world. It means we can see happiness expressed in people’s bodies. And finally, most importantly, we can actually make ourselves feel happier just by doing that easy dorky experiment where we hold chopsticks or a pen between our teeth. How cool is that? Brooks believes that “happiness is something that grows in us when we give it away,” and also that “happiness doesn’t just happen to you, you can manage it.” DOG TIP FOR LIFE Manage your happiness! Work for it! Wag your tail. Grab a stick. It's awesome. LINKS https://learning.edx.org/course/course-v1:HarvardX+happy+2T2021/block-v1:[email protected][email protected]/block-v1:[email protected][email protected] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2319446/ https://nypost.com/2022/05/19/topless-mom-in-her-undies-rescues-pet-goose-from-bald-eagle/ SHOUT ...
On BE BRAVE FRIDAYS, we share other people’s stories (unedited) to build a community of bravery and inspiration. Please let us know if you want to share your story with us and we’ll read it here and post it on our social media and website. This life is too short to not be brave. We can do this together. This week’s Be Brave Story is from the wonderful Sheri Boggs! Sheri, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You are so brave and so wonderful. xo Shaun and Carrie I have a story of bravery to share. It isn’t big, bold physical bravery but rather small, mild bravery in which my foe WAS MY OWN MIND. I took violin for a few years as a kid and started taking adult violin lessons in my late 40s. I was not great and probably would have given up a long time ago if not for my teacher, (let’s call her Ms.X), who is hilarious and reminds me of Candace Bergen. Half the time my lessons consisted of us ranting about politics or her telling me some marvelously gossipy story about when she played with our local symphony. A few months before the pandemic we decided I was ready to join the New Horizons Orchestra. New Horizons is an international organization with orchestras in cities all over the United States. Anyone is welcome, regardless of experience or skill, and their motto is “Your Best Is Good Enough.” My first time there, however, I realized I would need significantly more than my best. Everyone seemed to be a music teacher, a retired symphony member, or someone who practices for three hours a day. ...