I spent the weekend in Harbor Springs, Michigan, for their 2017 Festival of the Book. I drove up – about five hours. It was my first time in the northwestern part of the lower peninsula (“Up North” and “West side” in local parlance), and it was exceedingly pleasant. There was a clearness to the sky and an almost-Dutch quality of lakelight. “Reminds me of Maine,” said Terry, a picture book author who I shared a local resident’s condo with. We did school visit and panels and a happy-hour signing Saturday night (why doesn’t every signing include alcohol?). The events were well-spaced, at different venues in the three-square-block downtown; the boathouse was turned into a green room for the authors to eat, relax, and hang out in. I felt like I was on vacation.
Here’s something I didn’t expect to write this week: I really like being on panels. Maybe it’s because I’ve had the fortune of having good moderators, and being seated next to amazingly talented, thoughtful, and accomplished authors and illustrators. These conversations are another way that a book keeps giving back, even after it’s finished. I learn new things about writing – about myself – every time.
It feels strange writing those words to the background radiation of everything happening in Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Spain. There was a moment this weekend when I was off in the woods, standing on the shore of a small lake surrounded by trees, and everything else seemed so far away, unimportant. In the past I might’ve felt relief, but this time there was a creeping discomfort. It seemed frighteningly easy to disappear into it, or to disappear into my work, into business-as-usual, as is my natural inclination when I am too overwhelmed by things in the news. It seemed frighteningly easy not to care.
Maybe I was too much in my own head. But I honestly believe that there’s a broader awareness possible, and worth striving for, at times like this (or all times). There are ways to pay better attention, and let yourself be affected, then effected – a steep and narrow peak between complacency and paralysis. Something in this tweet this morning strikes me as potent, a potential:
It acknowledges both what’s close and far, both the swift and convenient and the hands-on and geologic. And there’s the built-in scale of that word: corner. A nook in some vastly larger space, one made up of infinite little corners.
It’s been a while since I’ve thought about stewardship, but I’m thinking about it again, now.