Last week, when the promoters at WordPress asked us for a photo of our refuge, I saved the post, pondered. The window where I sit on the farm looking out at tallgrass? A photo of my husband Cliff? The backyard where I go when words and world need safe action without thinking? A photo, for example, of the pink flamingos who patiently wait for me under the willow, wet or dry, snow or grass? A cave? Only I have no photos of caves.
Instead, I found this photo that I shot as a test photo when I was playing with the camera.
Now I can understand why someone else might find this less a refuge and more a demand. But for me, this spot is where I am most content. And this isn’t a set-up shot, this is just a shot, just a work space, just the pens and the scissors and the post-its and the monitor – and even the swimming fish – that anchor me. Just off camera to the right are the rows of bookcases that hold my history. I don’t have to remember everything, I just have to remember where it is. And usually, whatever it is I have to remember is in a computer file, a book, or a post-it.
Yesterday I spent most of the day thinking about memory. I’m working on a photo journal of a trip Cliff and I made to Paris in 2009 and I’ve been thinking of the way we, or at least I, process memories. It seems to take me a very long time to process what I remember into where it fits in my puzzle. I suppose one of these days I’m going to have to finish the puzzle, but for now, it just keeps developing. And at base, I expect, memory and the integration of memories into making sense, is my refuge. It even makes Cliff happier when I’m writing!
I also expect that most of us use memories as a refuge – perhaps a refuge from doing what we need to do or a refuge for staying stuck or a refuge to store blame. Or a refuge for feeling safe. My refuge is a puzzle and I keep building it. What’s yours?