I believe in opportunity and taking opportunities you are given. I believe if you are given the opportunity to be around, see or hear people who are doing amazing things or have had amazing lives you take the opportunity. If it presents an inconvenience and makes you tired the next day you still have had that opportunity to learn and soak up the wisdom that was offered. You may find that what you learn is not what you expect. You may find your knowledge diverging and intersecting and creating a tangled web of synapse and dendrites which gather together in your mind to create this rich experience called life.
Yesterday evening I made my way to Oklahoma City University, a campus that I had not been to since 1994. Why 1994? The summer between my Junior and Senior year in High School I won a scholarship opportunity to go to a science camp with 15 other kids from Oklahoma. It was a geography camp and we explored "Prairies to Peaks." It was one of those early life changing experiences, to be awarded something competitive and be able to travel throughout Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado for two weeks. For that I will always appreciate the experience that I had been given. It was an experience where I arrived and found out I was chosen to be one out of over 150 applicants.
To hear N. Scott Momaday speak about his work, and his life. You know when you are in the presence of a star. Not all stars look and sound like Josh Turner, Gary Allan, Sara Evans (I invite you to look at their photos also) not all stars are on a stage with thousands of fans screaming at them. This is N. Scott Momaday, a living legend and a incredible personality. He arrived to a packed house in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City on a Tuesday evening.
N. Scott Momaday is a master of words. He takes and creates with his mastery of the language worlds that you can visit and imagine and feel. He creates images in your mind, sensations and feelings. First a poet, inspired by Emily Dickinson. He spent a substantial amount of his youth in the Pueblos of New Mexico, "I saw things in Jemez, I'll never see again that belong in a world different from my own." Said Momaday, when he spoke of the Pueblos it was captivating, because they hold such a unique position in the world. To live within an ancient culture among a people who still hold those ancient traditions close.
Momaday was speaking of the writer Wilie Morris and how he had once said to him that "You know what I like about the autobiographical narrative? You get to lie a lot." "Why do you write?" "Writing is a passion" "You have fulfilled your destiny, you have been true to yourself."
My friend who I met over four years ago at a Seminar at North Dakota State University drove 300 miles to attend this lecture. I loved seeing her and we had a great day. What an impact this six week seminar sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities had in my life! This seminar was one I naturally gravitated to, being a Child of the Great Plains, so I had the opportunity to study as one of the writers who came out of the experience of the Plains. I met Plains Folk, Dr. Tom Isern who led us on a five week geographical exploration of the Northern Plains of the United States and Canada. The opportunity to learn from outstanding educators and to gain a fresh perspective on writing, History and literature.
I appreciate Momaday as a writer, because I was introduced to him in 2008. In 2009, I had another amazing opportunity to take part in a seminar at Stanford University, also shared with a friend from my Fargo experience. I walked down the halls of the University that help shape Momaday as a writer. My children took their first breath in the Indian Hospital where Momaday was born, my grandparents took their last breaths there. The beauty of the Wichita Mountains are the place I run to when I need solace on the worst days. I relate to his stories of the Pueblos because my first year as an educator was spent in an ancient village.
"In the white man's world, language, too- and the way in which the white man thinks of it-- has undergone a process of change. The white man takes such things as words and literatures forgranted, as indeed he must, for nothing in his world is so commonplace. On every side of him there are words by the millions, an unending succession of pamphlets and papers, letters and books, and bills and bulletins, commentaries, and conversations. He has diluted and multiplied the Word, and words have begun to close in upon him. He is sated and insensitive; his regard for language--for the Word itself-- as an instrument of creation has diminished nearly to the point of no return. It may be that he will perish by the word."
This section, to me in 2012 brings to mind the internet. The words that we throw around here every day which are diminished because there are so many of them, constantly. A constant stream of language that saturates our world with the voices of billions who cry out to each other, every day online. Such a timeless passage.
"I followed their ancient way to my Grandmother's grave. Thoush she lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain, the immense landscape of the continential interior--all of its seasons and sounds-- lay like the memory in her blood."
This is the Rainy Mountain that Momaday writes of (this image is an early example of my photography). I ramble here on this post, but it is my page, my work, my life. I love the beauty of the Wichita Mountains and I love Momaday's writing because the images he paints when I read his work are just as real as the photographs that I take. I'm often drawn to writers for their ability to conquer the land with their narratives, I stay for the story.