A Dream within a Dream

When I’m in a word document at the end of the page, I love the way I hit return and a new page magically appears. I love seeing the gap between the pages, as if they are actually paper.

As much as I love computers and the ease of writing and editing – especially editing – cutting and pasting and moving things around, reworking and such, in my core I’m a girl with a pen and a notebook. Flipping back through the pages. Seeing the way my handwriting changes day to day. Seeing how my writing sparkles and how it lies flat and dead. Seeing the way my world has changed over the days/weeks/years.


So important to me. I can’t believe it took me 40 years to realize how important. How much my writing is tied into what I see. How I see.

I collage my walls and paste pictures in my travel notebooks and keep visual spirit journals because I need to see the stories I’m telling. To let the pictures lead me and then to talk about where they’ve taken me. To look at the world and see where it’s going and then talk about what I’m seeing.

This need to document the world extends to photographs but it feels different. I’ll never be a true photographer because I use pictures as illustrations. They aren’t the story. I see a story and take pictures to illustrate it. To accompany it. By contrast, I have friends that are real photographers. They don’t need to write about their pictures. Their pictures are the story.

But we both have the same intent: Find the story.

Yesterday at the festival, I looked around at the photographers incessantly documenting to the point of never seeing the reality but only the scene framed in their cameras. They all were creating the story out of the reality. But in the process, they miss the reality.

I find myself caught between experiencing and documenting. I can’t do the one without wanting to do the other but too much of the latter and I’m not really doing the former. Tricky. I remember being in Ireland with Jen, sitting on top of a double-decker bus, writing in my travel journal and catching up from the day before. After about 20 minutes Jen said “You’re missing what’s happening right now.”

She’s right except there aren’t enough hours in the day! I need 5 extra hours that no one else gets so I can live my life fully and then document the parts worth saving, worth investigating, worth thinking about and exploring.

I come back again and again to the primary lesson Jules said she learned from Bikram “When you rest, rest completely.” I’m not sure how to do that. How to be completely where I am when I’m there.

This world I’m in now is all about figuring that out.

4 thoughts on “A Dream within a Dream

  1. If you find those 5 bonus hours, or how to rest completely, please share the secrets with me. These are things I’ve been wanting for a decade now. I remember the struggle between documenting and experiencing. How did I once journal thousands of words a day? Now I’m doing good if I eke out 40. But if I had 5 bonus hours…

  2. i have a friend who has abandoned photography when she travels. instead, she draws in a journal. she’s not an illustrator, and they’re very rough drawings, but they’re full of life and they convey far more actual experience. just little line drawings or sketches, in perfect symbiosis with the journal text. it seems to keep her in the moment in a way that pictures never did.

    • My mom draws like that too. her travel journals are great. I don’t have that drawing skill and it’s so stressful for me to draw badly. So I collect schmada and collage it instead.

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