Not since Steve Martin sang the praises of a new phone book has there been such excitement! Very happy to announce the launch of the new Empathinc. website. Artist Tom Schulz and writer/educator Sheila Ennis, along with their creative band of empathinkers, have a new URL to call home. Empathinc. is a collaborative venture that explores the intersection of art, community, faith, storytelling and commerce. It's also all about the exchange of ideas. Really cool ideas. Click on the logo, then visit often....
I was very happy to hear from fellow writer Samantha Bohnert about submitting an essay for her new column, "What Are You Writing?", which focuses on women writers and appears in the NYC-based publication "Equals." I also had fun looking around Samantha's excellent blog, http://coteriecoterie.wordpress.com where she curates something beautiful for the senses -- photography, words, food, music and more -- every day of the week.
My essay appears here: "On Stories and Second Chances"
I'm not afraid to say it: I have phobias. Fears of flying, bears, raw chicken juice, errant microbes, heights. I’m pretty afraid of heights. This news came late to the friends we recently visited in the East Bay. After a hike up Albany’s Indian Rock (the closest I’ll get to Machu Picchu), then a thrill ride up and down the streets of San Francisco, they took us to the tallest point in the city -- Twin Peaks.
To my left, I could see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz; to my right, the East Bay and some nice glinty hills and buildings. My friends called this Oakland. In front of me was a strange cloud formation that reminded me of a show I watched as a kid called, “The Secrets of Isis.” Market Street divided the city in half like a graham cracker.
I couldn't make out the Evel Knievel hills I had been on just an hour before. Everything had flattened out and become part of something larger and more important. It was instant perspective, as though all my fears had gathered up in that cloud and looked me straight in the eye. Ok, maybe not “all” my fears, but the irrational ones had drifted out there, allowing me to take in the panoramic beauty of the city and bay below.
When I was in middle school, my stepdad worked at Fort Baker and we visited him often. I never tired of looking at the bay and the fog gathering around the Golden Gate Bridge. Back then, my biggest fear was wearing the wrong pair of jeans, but I remember feeling a pit in my stomach every time I looked at Alcatraz. The way it lurked out there scared me (as a good prison should), yet I was also drawn to it –– how it tainted the beauty of its surroundings while contributing to it in a hollow, imperious way.
Driving back to the East Bay over both the Golden Gate and Richmond bridges, I didn’t feel that bridge-induced anxiety I usually feel. Like Alcatraz or that in-my-face cloud, my fears were nearby but out of my way. Maybe some fears, the irrational ones, don’t have to be conquered. They can just sit there, puffy and overblown, powerful but separate, threatening to hold us back but daring us to go on.