Friday, September 04, 2009

Ready to move on (and out) - falling in step with the universe

The day Orion magazine arrives in my mailbox is a happy day for me. I look forward to curling up on the couch, a cup of tea and a pen or highlighter in hand. Orion is more like a book, I underline, write notes in the margins, return to articles, and then sit down to blog about it, to share it with you.

A few months ago, it was painfully obvious my time was up at the L.A. Times. Producing and writing online entertainment was not in line with my passions or life goals. I've been job searching ever since, dreaming of that perfect fit where I could use my love of writing, traveling, meeting new people and sharing their stories.

It didn't matter where I was, in fact, I've always found pride in my nomadic existence. But in the last few weeks, I've found myself exhausted by L.A., drawn to pictures of cottage life, wanting to be surrounded by trees and running water. I love my friends here, but get tired of going out and being surrounded by industry types who only talk about the business (movies and TV, for those who live surrounded by other industries. And yes, to those in Hollywood, there ARE other industries).

Some of my favorite books are about living in harmony with the natural world: Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Holy The Firm, Wendell Berry's The Art of the Commonplace, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, Mary Oliver's poetry.

I want to fall in line with the universe and who I really am, find myself loving a place, being a part of community. I don't feel that here. I've always felt the idea of settling in somewhere, putting down roots, would come later. It seems later has arrived. Reading David Abram's beautiful feature about "mind and mood on a breathing planet" in the September | October issue of Orion, I finally understood it. The desire my sister talks about when she waxes poetically about Portland and community and roots. Abrams explores the idea that what we consider to be our individual mind is actually more in line with the mind of nature.

"If we allow that mind is a biospheric quality, an attribute endemic to the wide sphere that surrounds us and sustains us, we swiftly notice this consequence: each region — each topography, each uniquely patterned ecosystem — has its own particular awareness, its unique style of intelligence." ...

"Different atmospheric conditions are, precisely, different moods. Each earthly mood affects the relation between our body and the living land in a specific way, altering the texture of our reflections and the tonality of our dreams. ... We moderns pay little heed to these subtle invisibles, these elementals..."

Excerpts don't do Abram's exploration into the quality of wind, rain, thunderstorms, snow and spring winds justice. After reading it, I had a strong sense that if the land, the topography, and the people living in it are influencing my life, I want to choose a place that is a better match.

The day I first stepped foot in Berkeley, California, I fell in love. It may have helped that I was just blocks from the original Peet's Coffee. But it was more of a body response to the place, to the old growth trees lining the sidewalks outside the rambling houses, to the people who said hello as they walked by. It feels like a meeting ground of the two places I've lived longest, Eugene, Oregon and Los Angeles. Solid, earthy palm trees mingle with evergreens. Protesters sit in trees to keep them from being cut down. Since then, I've visited San Francisco, Sonoma County, and Monterey, and all these places feel more home to me than anywhere else I've been. So I'm putting it out there. I'm going to look for jobs specifically in that area. I'm asking if any of you know of jobs in the Bay area.

It is time to pursue what I'm passionate about, engaging with stories of the changing world, communities, and telling the stories of those who don't have a voice in this world.

For those who don't know me, here's a bit about my work history. My experience at the Times trained me in web publishing, journalism and blogging on a deadline. I blogged from the Sundance Film Festival. I have also worked for and with non-profits, most recently traveling to Ethiopia with Life in Abundance as a writer for a short documentary to be used for fund-raising to help street children in Addis Ababa. Previously I worked in production on feature films, assisting executive producers, line producers and a director.

The Golden Gate bridge and the proximity to gorgeous hikes keeps drawing me back to the Bay Area. It's time to pay attention to that.

(Photo from AlteredAbbey,


glutton4punishment said...

Rebecca -- you are clearly a deep thinker, and I really love that quality in your writing. It's nice, isn't it, to finally get a sense of your place in the world? I have a love/hate relationship with L.A., so I understand where you're coming from re: moving away. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Wish you would stick around because we need more quality people like you here, but you've gotta do what your heart is telling you.

Rebecca Snavely said...

Chris - Thanks so much for reading and for the compliment. I hope I emphasize that I don't think L.A. completely devoid of good people - meeting you and others at Micah's party reinforced my belief that the city is actually full of creative spirits who engage in great conversation. But you're right, it's good to get a sense of where I fit best, and that article I referenced was so beautiful about the power and influence of nature in our lives. Thanks again.

The Unlikely Pastor's Wife said...

Love it Rebecca and I love you! I'm excited for this new stage in your life and to see what it brings. My prayers are with you....hoping for something perfect!