Motherhood with a Camera: Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo

"we left - under the freeway shoulders - under the tough old stars - in the shadow of bluffs i came back to myself.

to the real work, to "what is to be done""

- gary snyder


simple is not so simple. it never has been for me, with my long held joke about an inner peace deficiency.  but even if you are not so easily moved and distracted and rattled against the cage, it is getting harder. to find quiet, to hear your own voice, to be a player in your own life without seeing it lined up next to someone else's. simple eludes us, it dances through the air out of reach, beautiful, but too light to hold here on earth. we are too loud down here, too distracted, with too much stuff, too many worries, layers of places to be in our heads. we manage and organize and plan ahead what we will have, who we will be. what we want and what we need thrown into the same imaginary basket. and in it, we rifle, we toss, we pull out our hope with our hair. i do it too, even with my daydreams. i feel scattered and aching and longing for a moment that is sometimes the air i am breathing. right now. and that very longing for this moment, that deep sense of immediate nostalgia, is the writing on my bones, and my reason for using a camera.

but i feel stuck these days, my tires caked and twisted in the very road that calls me. sometimes, the freedom that draws me to taking pictures, of defying time with love and attention, feels more like a path i am chasing. when i should be wandering. the fog lifted, and there was this world to tell about, then it burned off so quickly. the light was too bright; i felt the burn on my skin. those same old expectations emerged, stark in mid day. i remember what it was to be wild and young and free. for about five minutes, if i am honest. and with it there was hurting, a powerlessness i fought down to the quick of my fingers, a want of a whole world, indifferent to the quirks and trials of being me, but open nonetheless. it was a gorgeous pipe dream. it was not being in the world. and then i became a mama. and the inspiration and real life seemed to braid themselves together. it was the surprise of loving a life into being. as elegant as particle theory, as simple as singing someone to sleep. there was no plan and no one to answer to but the beat we are drumming out with our fingers.

the very truth of our lives in the tiniest eternities of our rhythms, our unfolding, the discovery. so plug me in to this day as we write it out in longhand. let me take enough private risks to try and fail and wonder. let me remember that wisdom pains and blesses us at once, but is never an announcement.

simple is three long, deep breaths with my little boy, as we anchor each others eyes, tear filled or clear.

it is knowing that an adventure is as close as paying full attention.

it is coming up for air, when you are tired of holding your breath.

it is reading book after book after book, and remembering every voice, every accent, every pregnant pause.

it is peeling oranges, drawing stories about music without words, being the patient to my tiny doctor, making a happy fool of myself for the prize of their laughter.

it is forgiving yourself your imperfections, and cutting straight to the undressed truth.

it is taking a break from feeling the need to catch up.

it is 16 frames of film to fill, carefully, permanently, with love.

(one roll of portra 400, contax 645. that simple.)


Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo, based in San Diego, CA:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Contact