Ashley Bryan died this week. He was 98 and a brilliant artist, writer, and human who lived on an island in Maine near us and was the keynote speaker at a book festival we had. In a 2017 Horn Book interview with Roger Sutton and Nikki Giovanni, he said,
If someone says they are taking my time — that’s the one thing you never can take. I have to offer it. Time is of the moment, and the moment is all I have. If that moment isn’t precious to me, then I’m not living. Nothing is more important or precious to me right now than both of us talking
Ashley also said in that same interview
I love poetry. It’s at the heart of everything I do. Poetry transforms what we call language, and uses language as the stuff to become something else. I get spun around by what happens in words. When that occurs, it inspires images that seem so original to me as an artist, even though I’m following what the poem has offered.
So, I, Carrie was a bit heartbroken by this, not just because Ashley Bryan like me goes out in public with paint on his sweater (as you see in a photo on our blog taken when he was at the book festival), but because Ashley was such a light in this world. He seemed to get it–to not just rejoice in the moment, but to also rejoice in the twists to the moments.
In a New York Times article from 2020 entitled “Why Mundane Moments Matter,” Simran Sethi writes
Although we, as a culture, typically favor the superlative, research shows that moonlight, and everything that is revealed in ordinary moments of our life, matters. Valuing the routine enriches our lives in ways we do not expect, because “how we spend our days,” the author Annie Dillard reminds us, “is how we spend our lives.”Sethi
You can hold onto the past and get bitter or sorrowful. You can project into the future and fill it with worry, but the moment you are in right now. That is your moment. You want to try to actually experience it fully, breathe it in. Be freaking alive in it, be present.
And Ashley got that. He expressed that in his love for community, for moments, for twists, for poetry, and in his art. In another interview with the Horn Book, he said to Sutton.
It is an urgency that is fundamental, and the essence is the same. It’s the urgency to discover something about ourselves in every work we make. I make no distinction between doing a block print, a collage, a watercolor, a tempera painting. To me it’s an effort to discover something of myself that I do not know and have not done. So each effort is like that of the child going out in the morning, making discoveries and having adventures.Ashley Bryan
We hope you find that too–that discovery–that fundamental essence in your moments and in your self.
When you allow yourself to lean into the moments rather than always bemoaning the lack of celebrity-endorsed superlatives, you get to enjoy those twists, those bits, those things you might not normally see. How cool is that, really?
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Live in the moment.
Link we mention in our Random Thoughts
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every other week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!