One was a seeker after light:
Light. I took to watching it on the spring trees, noticing how it turned the delicate new leaves translucent. I observed the way it threw shadows against walls; tossed stardust across the surface of the water, made filigree on the ground where it fell through wrought-iron railings.
Though not an artist herself, the clockmaker’s daughter is drawn to those who embody light or capture it in a painting (which is really about nothing except light. At least that's what drives my work).
The other character was Lucy, whom we follow for at least sixty years and whom I recognized as a kindred soul. The arc of her journey is traced by a thirst for knowledge. Like Kate Morton, Lucy is driven by a need to pack in as much understanding as a lifetime can encompass:
The world was just so utterly abundant, and for each book that she read, each theory that she came to understand ten more branched out before before her. Some nights she lay awake, wondering how she could best divide her lifetime: there simply wasn’t enough of it for a person to ensure that they learned everything they wished to know.
That resonated for me, as I find myself reading faster and harder year by year. While I’m not quite at “The Rocking Horse Winner” stage, the thought of lying on my deathbed buried in books has crossed my mind.
Perhaps the more social side of reading is to be invited into the mind of a hero, like James Comey and Madelaine Albright, who both faced down fascism, or the Obamas, who chose to go high when the opposition went low. There are too many in my pantheon to list but let’s just say my dinner party invitation list would have to be pretty darned long.
Truthfully, I would rather attend a dinner party than give one. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of preparing food. I can always eat it faster than I can make it. And even if there are many elements in my house which honestly spark joy, a certain ennui has set in when it comes to dusting them. But, thank heavens, both writing and painting, unlike housework and cooking and even reading, have a natural arc with a start and an ending, and then they obligingly trundle off to live their own lives.
That is not to say that I don’t worry about what others might think of my writing and painting. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the huge pool of genius to which we all have access today thanks to libraries, bookstores, newspapers and the Internet. My own contributions are extremely modest. But while I have considered avoiding the work involved in painting a portrait or writing a post, either of which too often demands to be birthed feet first, I guess I am not ready to quit yet. At the very least, writing to you forces me to think about what I think. Because this world is flush with trivia and rich in half-sifted detritus, we often don’t actually form a thought until we have framed it in language.
So there’s a thought: stop reading my writing and begin your own, even if it is a private interaction between you and yourself. I'm glad I joined the writing team in 2014. Whatever you decide, thanks for choosing to spend this time together now. The silent kinship of writer and reader has honestly been lovely.