The Worn Wear truck arrived at the University of Oregon today and it was fun to be there and watch them look over the used gear that people brought, providing repair services and offering suggestions. The brand was irrelevant and you could have one item repaired for free – a great deal. They are here for a sustainability conference being put on by the business college and from what I could tell their work today will be a hit. I had a new velcro set up installed on the sleeve of my rain jacket that I keep in my office. h/t to Patagonia for doing this. You can follow the Worn Wear Wagon as it makes its way around the country. If they stop nearby, take advantage! As the sticker says, “If it’s broke, fix it!”
These images are from the collection of Edward Curtis photos from his original 20 volume set. Some of these are over one hundred years old, too. I read a great book about Edward Curtis and his work as a photographer a couple of years ago by Timothy Egan called, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. This review on Crosscut.com covers it nicely and I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s an easy read too, but one that will keep you reading from the moment you begin.
The University of Oregon came by this set via his mistress who offered a trade – the set she owned (which was Curtis’s and she got after he died) for the one that the university had purchased at an earlier time. These images are only taken out a few times a year so it was truly a special treat for me to get a chance to see them.
I remember how one day, on my way home from a late afternoon hike, sunlight hit a cloud hovering on the far ridge. The sunlight turned the cloud pink, and the cloud turned the Douglas firs and madrones pink, and turned the long grasses in the meadow pink, turned the red-dirt logging road pink, turned my hands and arms and skin pink. The whole world glowed like breeze-brightened ember. I stopped and stood there a second, gob-smacked, gawking, wondering many scenes just as mighty I had already witnessed and forgotten, and pitying myself for being alone, for having nobody with whom to share such transcendence. Then I heard a voice—an inner voice, like the one I listen to when I’m writing—and it said that the point wasn’t to remember any of this vision but live a life as beautiful. If I could do that, the voice reasoned, I would share this moment with everyone I met. And if I could do that, I was never really alone.
I receive an email newsletter from Jack Cheng, an author. It comes to me once a week on Sunday evenings and I find it a nice way to turn the page towards the new week ahead. In yesterday’s note, he wrote the following regarding travel, which took me back to my days of travel. I found what he wrote hit home on many levels, too. It was the last sentence that stuck, however:
A few weeks ago I was telling A., who hasn’t traveled much, about this trip, and he said that the thought of being in a foreign country without knowing the local language gives him anxiety an order of magnitude higher than anything else. It was something about the combination of being able to navigate and get basic needs met, and also the thought of being judged for not speaking the native tongue. It’s a familiar anxiety, one that I felt and still feel at times, especially places in Asia where the signs are written in an unfamiliar alphabet. The anxiety is partly rooted in some deep perfectionism, a fear of being laughably unskilled at something. But as for the food-shelter-transport thing, over time I’ve learned that the difficulties of travel when they present themselves are rarely as devastating as I had previously imagined, and even when they are challenging they are never life-threatening. It can be immensely fun to stumble through conversation with only nouns and hand signals, or to walk into a drug store and find that they stock a different but overlapping set of items than the ones back home. The worst parts of travel (and nearly everything else) are the anxieties we have about those things before they happen. It’s as though we have little faith in our future selves.
We took the kids out to see the lights in town tonight, hitting the usual spots. The image is of a house that has their lights synchronized to music that is being broadcast on a lower-band FM station (90.1 in this case). It’s a pretty neat set-up and makes me want to try something similar sometime . . . kind of.
Yesterday afternoon we took the kids to the play A Christmas Carol that was put on by the Oregon Contemporary Theatre. It was a great production in a small, intimate setting. It brought me to tears at the end.