Be here now

I loved Michiko Kakutani’s wonderful article about Obama the reader, Obama the writer, as he prepares to leave the White House. There was much about the piece that moved me, but it’s this line I can’t stop thinking about:

He has a writer’s sensibility — an ability to be in the moment while standing apart as an observer

I read that and stopped.  I read it again.  And again.  I started to crying.  I’ve written ad nauseum about my fierce desire to be here now.  I’ve also written, over and over again, about the sense I have inside my own life of being slightly removed, of having my nose pressed against a window as I watch things happening through it. I am the official photographer, after all. But I’ve been thinking through the implications of that bias, that role, for many years.

I am trying to be here, and I am resolutely outside.

Can these things coexist?

By the way, I’m not saying I’m comparing myself to Obama.  I’m also not calling myself a writer.  But that sentence stopped me in my tracks, because I want so dearly to be in the moment, but I also recognize that I am often standing apart.  Am I trying to thread an impossible needle, reconcile two fundamentally opposed goals?  Or can I be both?

I don’t plan to stop trying to be here now, to stop trying to release the claim the past and future make on my present.  But maybe it’s a relief to honor the difficulty I have with that: maybe it’s part of my wiring.

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  1. Nadine
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    I love that sentence, too. And, you are a writer. A wonderful one at that, one who truly speaks to her readers.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you for saying that. I appreciate it. And love knowing the same sentence speaks to you. xox

  2. Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Um, why are you not calling yourself a writer? Because Girl, you are a writer. xoxo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you. I swear I wasn’t casting around for these kind comments (I truly don’t think of myself as a writer, probably because A. no book B. I have a full-time job in finance) but I appreciate it.

  3. Tracey
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    You absolutely are a writer! I know so well that feeling of being present and yet removed, and I think it means that you’re there on two levels, and I think it’s a actually a gift.

    “Thread the impossible needle.”…perfect metaphor for some things in life.

    admin Reply:

    I hope you are right. Impossible needle indeed. xox

  4. Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    You unequivocally can and should do both. That is why you, he, and anyone is successful. Not either/or but both/and. This is what the world so needs to learn, especially now!

    admin Reply:

    I hope you are right! xox

  5. Angie
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
    The New York Times had an article on the letters President Obama received and answered and the office that dealt with all the mail. Fascinating!
    Wonder what will happen now?

    Keep reading and writing, witnessing and being in the moment. We will keep reading and witnessing too!!

    admin Reply:

    I saw this! I wonder too. Hard to imagine the same kind of thoughtful responses are coming now (nor the same kind of letters TO the president). Thank you. xox

  6. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    You ARE a writer.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you, dear one – I promise the purpose of my post wasn’t to dig for affirmation, but I worry it seems that way!!

  7. Posted January 31, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    You are a writer, as others have said – and I feel this same tension too. Thank you for writing about it honestly and eloquently. xo

  8. Posted January 31, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Ok, no more affirmations of your status as writer (though you know what I think ;). I love how you frame this tension, and I actually think there’s something to that constant STRIVING to be in the moment, to be here. now. that makes you idiosyncratically present, after all. To have a heightened awareness, a keen perception of every beautiful little thing. And so, it sharpens your ability to observe, and to record. It all goes hand in hand. And if I were you, I wouldn’t tweak a thing. xox

  9. Posted January 31, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink


    I echo what others have said. You ARE a writer – Not just on the surface, but in your marrow too. xo