Two-year-old Linda with her father, Jerry Metcalf.
The Man I Couldn’t Stop Learning From
I’ve wanted to begin my first post on this new site with something juicy so here it is: Proprioceptive Writing has a future. Yay! The plan has been a long time acomin’. In the future, PW Center Teaching Faculty will teach PW through the Proprioceptive Exploratory Practice, the teaching method I’ve practiced myself all these years. Check out the new course list. It’s the curriculum people move through to become and (eventually) train others to become PWC teaching faculty. Also, this site gives me space to communicate with PW teachers (and others) and gives them space to communicate with each other. Hmm.…yummy.
So with a curriculum and the prospect of a growing teaching faculty in place, I’m in the future I dreamt of as I traveled the dusty trail to get here. Now, on this site, in this space called “Linda’s Notebook,” I’d write for others about my father, Jerry Trichter, the man I couldn’t stop learning from; proprioceptively, the one I’d been writing about forever, stuffing stapled pages into files, labeling and mislabeling them, losing track of them, finding them again amidst loose papers hiding in other files with other names. The moment had arrived when I would confront my long harbored ambition to speak of Jerry in relation to PW and as part of the nuclear family that was my history. But just as I sat down to begin the tale, something horrible happened. The fun drained out of it, like blood from a corpse. And as the plan I felt such pleasure in went dead, despair and hopelessness overtook me. Mystified and mourning for my lost interest, I scrambled to explain my feelings to myself. And here’s what happened next.
An inner visual image came to mind of a woman in her 80’s, of strong New England stock, who attended a workshop with us at Rowe Conference Center, way back when, grimly clutching a troubling question to her chest. Why had she stopped writing the book about her mother as it neared completion, and why couldn’t she start again?
Then, in the last Write of the weekend, it occurs to her to think that by finishing it, she’ll lose the great interest that kept her fire burning all these years.
There’s a reason, for you. But so what? Maybe when this project is done, new ones will begin. With this thought her sober face breaks into a tearful smile and in that nanosecond I photograph her mentally.
As I was considering whether her fear was mine, a second visual image popped into mind, this from a documentary I once saw on TV, its subject a famous photographer returning, after 40 years away, to a small city in Hungary to photograph scenes of his early life. In my mind’s eye I see him as the documentarian filmed him, focusing his old Nikon on the entrance to the bullet-holed apartment building where he grew up. In voice over, we hear his thought. “Is this photograph only for me?” he asks, philosophically. And with apparent resignation, he answers, “Who knows? We’ll see.”
“Only for me?” What if I fail to make what’s important to me meaningful to others? That’s the fear that made my blood run cold. On the heels of this reason came a fresh thought, that imagining failure isn’t very different from imagining success. Which raised my spirits and moved me with resolve along my path. Now onward.