Scott Russell Sanders On Resisting Despair
When I feel so much grief over the woundedness and brokenness of the world that I lose the power or the desire to go on, I turn to members of my family for consolation. Another thing that moves me out of a state of grief is beauty, in all its forms: in nature, in the face of someone you love, in music, in language, in scientific formulas, and in images of remote constellations beamed down from the Hubble space telescope. Beauty reminds me that all the grief, all the loss, all the sadness that is terribly meaningful to me, personally, is just a dust mote in the grand scheme of things. It’s tiny, ephemeral.
The first time I hear the voice is in the fall, when the larch trees have just begun to change color. I’m driving out of Washington’s Blue Mountains along Cloverland Road just above the Snake River. Cloverland is a series of hair-pin turns and S curves bordered by a sheer drop into a canyon full of snakes, sage, and yellow star thistle.
A few years after my arrival, I move with my husband to Koreatown, a colorful neighborhood where our jewel of an apartment gleams quietly amid a cacophonous welter of Salvadoran taco vendors, alley-cruising crack-heads, and ambulance sirens wailing the news that yet another Seoul-trained driver has merrily run a red light.
Since 1994, I have been photographing the landscape and inhabitants of the Southside, a Latino neighborhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I began by making portraits of teenagers playing handball and basketball in the schoolyards. I was drawn to the mixture of arrogance and vulnerability in their faces, the naiveté and feigned maturity of their posturing.