I pulled this picture off the shelf last month and dusted it off. It is one of my favorites. It was a great trip. This might have been around 1992 or 3, because the little guy was 10 at the time if I'm remembering correctly. My brother Ken, is obviously taking the picture. This picture was taken on a cross-country motorcycle trip and this location is the Badlands of South Dakota.
My dad and I have been doing cross-country trips since I was a kid. I used to be on the back, since I got my Virago here, we started riding together. This was Brad's first big cross-country trip (he didn't seem to like it as much as we -or he- thought he would - he's a homebody and missed mom a lot). Ken had been on short hops with me and dad, but this was his first, big cross-country gig. Moreover, Ken and Lisa had just gotten back from their honeymoon, packed a bag and decided to go with us - spur of the moment like. This is always one of my favorite days as we head west from Michigan - it's the first day we start getting mountains and things are literally up-hill from here. I also love the desert and I have a reverence and a love for the Badlands. I never get bored of visiting them. It is a great moment, and brings back many images, emotions, thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires, etc. But it's just a moment. A singled out piece of life. Here are some more moments that followed.
I lost that same little brother, Brad, to suicide ten short years later, before he was 21. One moment cutting a story short. Many other stories were snipped, knotted, and re-worked. One moment, rippling out into the universe. Even as it vanished, much evidence was left behind. It seems to ripple forever.
At the other end is my brother, Ken, and sister-in-law, Lisa, giving birth to their fifth child this year. Another moment, giving birth to an eternity.
|Ken, Kurtis, and Lisa|
My dad and I have gone cross-country many times, up, down, back, forth, and all around. Here is a fall moment from a few years ago on one of our fabulous Michigan fall rides. My dad just turned 73 Monday. He is having a harder time getting around now and we may not be able to have many or any more rides together, but I have thousands of minutes and hundreds of captured moments collected of the many rides we've been on together. Motorcycle moments, soccer moments, car moments, mechanical moments, a lifetime in moments.
|Me and my Dad|
This year was my third fall at Wood Badge (my second on staff). Below is a moment created for memory, effect, symbolism, posterity, and continuity. It was captured by one of the participants.
|Camp Teetonkah, the second oldest Boy Scout camp in the United States, |
on a lake, with the trees changing color, in the fall of 2014.
I am an anthropologist by degree and a writer by nature. Basically as writers we have a character which is like a deck of cards, with each card equalling a moment. To have a deck to work with we have to have a character with many moments - good, bad, fun, instructional, etc. And we pull a card when we need it and throw it into the story pile. With multiple characters at the table, our story is an accumulation of those cards being drawn and working together or against each other in response to whatever game we are playing with them at the time. As the story changes, the game may change, but the cards used are the same.
A story is a collection of a few expanded moments. Moments get expanded when characters share old moments in weakness, despair, devotion, or when new moments are created and the course of the game is forever changed. Moments make up a life. When moments are mixed and shared with others, in fun or in sadness, it leads to a well-rounded story with well-rounded, life-like characters. When we have good, complete, decks of character, others can join us in a few (well planned and polished) hands and become part of our stories. All share in a few moments that will have rippling repercussions, for good or bad, throughout their lives and stories.
So, are you just writing words, or are you creating moments to remember? When you create moments, people will want to join in those moments with you and your characters, making you both unforgettable.
Keep it real - make, take, and swap moments. Bonus points if you can boil that "needed" backstory down into something the size of one perfectly photographed moment. Shown for a brief minute, but conveying the unforgettable essence of thousands of words and showing us bright glimpses of eternity.
|Me (Penny) in Chicago Sept 2014|