...a revision of a letter I once wrote to my friend and fellow caregiver, Kate:
One evening at my camera club meeting, three members who had recently been chosen to be in a juried show talked about their work. My favorite speaker was a man who passed on to us something his mentor had told him. He told us to look less for the "postcard image", and instead to seek out "precious light". "Take photos in that light," he said, "even if the photos are of a bubble gum wrapper on pavement. Get to know 'precious light' and how it works--until your response to it is automatic. You can then go back to looking for compositions. Your images will never be the same after that."
Since then, I have been thinking about "precious light" and how I will know it. He assured us that we would know it if we set out to look for it, but I fear I won't be able to see it. One day, I suddenly remembered one of my favorite passages from Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek", in which she, too, talks about the importance of light. A paraphrase here, in which she encourages being aware of light: "You cannot cause light, but the least you can do is put yourself in its path".
I'm mentioning this because I am thinking two things about these two pieces of advice. First, at this point in my life, it would be good to quest for photographic "precious light" if only to provide a focus outside the other concerns of the day--a worthy and absorbing distraction. Caregiving is hard, hard work. It can consume you. Second, the advice strikes me as a good metaphor for all of one's life. I think that in order to endure, we caregivers need to remember our own need to pursue some kind of "precious light"--some place or activity or practice that bathes us with nurturing and renewal.
We cannot neglect that and expect to remain whole.