Updated: Dec 7, 2019
"If you ask anyone walking down the sidewalk somewhere, what is that you really want?
I think many would say, ‘Intimacy. That's the thing I don’t have in my life that I desperately need.’
Lack of intimacy seems to cover a lot of trouble we're in."
Barry Lopez is the author of the national book award-winning book, Arctic Dreams and the recently published book, Horizon. He was interviewed in the December issue of The Sun, and before reading the interview, I had never heard of him.
Yet, as I was reading, I found myself highlighting and marking up the magazine pages like I would do in the pages of a good book. I found so much insight from his responses to the interview questions that I can only imagine what I will find in the pages of his books.
Here I include excerpts in specific categories that I felt were worth documenting and sharing. The lines about the need for intimacy resonated most when I reflected on how many people I know struggle with depression and feelings of disconnection.
I believe many people have a desire to go beyond the surface and experience a deeper connection with others. They just don’t know how to do it.
Lopez points to trust and vulnerability as essential elements for intimacy. We have to be willing to be vulnerable in order to trust, and sometimes, we have to trust in order to be vulnerable. This is the only way we can open up to the topics and feelings that matter most. This, I believe, would alleviate some of those feelings of isolation and reduce the need to keep up appearances. More trust and connection could bridge communication gaps and perceptions of “other.” Because the truth is: We are all in this together.
What We Can Learn from Nature\
“Watch a flock of starlings.”
“To behold them is to take in something beautiful, a coordinated effort to do something beautiful,
a coordinated effort to do something
in which there’s no leader, no hero.
That’s to me the way around that dilemma
of scale: a much greater level of coordination
and deference toward others.”
The visual of starlings in the sky always puts me in a state of awe. They make these incredible geometric shapes that are only possible as a unit. The biggest changes made in our societies have been made through coordinated effort. If that was the focus, I believe we could achieve more in the biggest areas of concern.
What we can Learn from Traditional Societies\
“Leave no one behind.”
“In a traditional setting, elders would say,
‘Well if the solution doesn’t help everyone,
then we‘re not going to go in that direction.’
Providing for all ensures stability for all.”
Here I thought of our society’s focus on rugged individualism and survival of the fittest. It seems only those who earn stability can have it. The weaker reflect our fear of weakness, so we often turn our backs instead of reaching out a hand. I respect what traditional cultures have maintained that we seemed to have lost along the way.
Society’s Need for Stability over Progress\
“We are coming into a time
when ensuring stability is more important
than achieving progress."
This idea of stability was something I had not considered in a social sense. I had always understood the need for individual stability and social progress. Yet, maybe real progress can not be made without stability. I would like to see more stability in our society, and there are areas where we definitely need to make greater progress. For me, it is needed in not only in the area of social justice where we need to see progress but also in policies around conservation, mental health initiatives and adequately protecting and educating children.
In Striving for Peace and Justice\
“You can pursue justice exclusively
and create social chaos, or you can
pursue peace exclusively
and let true barbarians go unpunished.
You’ve got to find some middle ground
between absolute peace and absolute justice."
My question after reading this is why do we think we have to go for one or the other? We should never feel at peace with injustice, and we definitely can’t always seek justice peacefully, but can we find peace in knowing that injustice is part of the human experience and that all battles are not won by force? These are questions to ask within ourselves before expecting it to play out in our communities.
The Role of the Storyteller\
“The writer’s responsibility isn’t to be wise.”
Lopez writes, “The storyteller’s responsibility
is to remember what we are all prone to forget,
and to say it memorably.”
I believe this is true. The words I have read and written to myself have often helped me remember the strength and resilience in the world that was also within me. Words can reveal and heal if they meet you when you are willing, ready, and able to accept the beauty and truth in them.
Sometimes they hit you in the right place whether you are ready or not. For this reason, the world needs writers to keep the words flowing out to the people who need them most.
“The emotional darkness in some human lives is almost unbearable, so you have to find a way as a writer to let the reader see the light they know is there but which they can’t find.”