Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Home / The beauty and the terrible realities we face / Finding balance


Krista Tippett:
I usually start my conversations with an inquiry about the spiritual background of your childhood. And however you would define that. And, as I look at the sweep of your writing, I see so many elements that to me are profoundly spiritual, a long sense of time or a robust commitment to hope. You describe your childhood in so many ways, and in one place — these are words you use, “A scrawny, battered little kid in a violent house.” And I wonder how you would think about that notion of the spiritual background of your childhood. And it occurs to me that perhaps some of these things were seeded by absence, as much as by presence.

Rebecca Solnit:

I think that’s true. And when you asked that question, what comes to mind is kind of a map of where most of my childhood took place. I wrote somewhere that I had an inside-out childhood, because every place was safe but home. If you went just on the other side of the backyard fence was a quarter horse stud farm and then dairy farms and open space. And the landscape and the animals, domestic and wild, were this huge refuge, and really fed encouraged me, and there was a sense of community with the non-human. And so that was if you went north, even just to the other side of the fence and beyond, just endless open space, and oak trees, and grasslands, and wildlife.

And then if you went south, there was a really great public library. And the minute I learned how to read, it was as though I’d been given this huge treasure. Every book was a box I suddenly knew how to open, and in it, I could meet people, go to other worlds, go deep in all kinds of ways. And I spent my childhood in the hills and in the books. So that was not maybe what people think of conventionally as spirituality, but that was my company, my encouragement, my teaching, my community.


Rebecca Solnit:
I want better metaphors. I want better stories. I want more openness. I want better questions. All these things feel like they give us tools that are a little more commensurate with the amazing possibilities and the terrible realities that we face.


Rebecca Solnit grew up in much the way I did, walking in the hills of Northern California, reading books.  Northern California is her home and one of the two places I can call home.  Her writing continues to inspire me.


My friend, Yom, came alone from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975.  Along with other refugee women, she was given a job doing industrial sewing for Columbia Sportswear at the place where I was working as a sewing machine operator.  We were both in our mid-20s.  We have been friends for nearly 50 years.  For many years, Yom saved her money and bought a home for herself in Seattle and began to create a garden.  Yom married Chris.  Yom and Chris adopted a baby boy from an orphanage in Vietnam nearly 20 years ago.  He just finished his first year of college.  Chris made this video of Yom's beloved garden.  


Pixie said...

What a lovely garden. What an amazing woman.

37paddington said...

An inside out childhood, secured by nature. So poignant.