Letter from the Director – September 2023


I want to talk about bucket lists. You know, those lists we make of things we want to accomplish before we “kick the bucket.” Do you have one? I have a loose one, not written down, existing only in the contours of my mind. I’ve contemplated making my list more official, filed on the desktop of my computer or written on an index card and pinned to the bulletin board above my writing space. I haven’t done that. I like keeping the list in my thoughts, where there’s room to expand and reenvision, where no idea is limited by the physicality of a piece of paper. I want my special goals to be free to roam the universe. 

I want to talk about bucket lists and imagination. One thing about choosing items for a bucket list is the need to fight the urge to limit yourself. Let your imagination soar. Put huge, unwieldy, megaliths on your list, and don’t take them off. It matters less what you put on the list than it does your attitude about what you put on the list. Ask yourself to imagine without constraints, as if anything is possible. 

I want to talk about bucket lists, imagination, and the sky. Have you guessed by the photos accompanying this letter that one thing on my bucket list was skydiving? That’s me in the photos – tandem jumping with an instructor at Music City Skydiving. It was awesome. When we leaned out of the plane at 14,000 feet into freefall, my instructor decided to do a backflip – without telling me! For a second, I thought we were falling in a wild, out-of-control sort of way and I hoped it was recoverable because my kids were waiting for me below. We did recover and then, all I saw was sky. Beautiful, open atmosphere and altitude. I was falling. I felt like every rule I’d ever composed for my life was in the past and unnecessary, and I was completely, passionately free. The fall took only 60 seconds, and then, with the pull of a cord, I was tethered again to reality as we floated toward earth.

I want to talk about bucket lists, imagination, the sky, and the ground. When we landed, I gripped the grass for a moment and tried to find perspective for the experience. I couldn’t. It was unlike anything I’d ever felt or known. It was a thrill, yes, but it was also deeper. It was as if I’d taken my heart out of my body and said, “fly.” Back in the solid and grounded state of my life, I appreciated the surety and safety of what I’d always known: standing, walking, talking, the trees, the buildings, the people waiting for me. I felt settled again and it was good, but I also realized I had experienced something new – a freedom that somehow changed me. 

I want to talk about bucket lists, imagination, the sky, the ground, and writing – because you knew this had to end with writing. Maybe you’re not expecting it to end with questions though. Here are some things to ponder.

  • What’s on your writing bucket list?
  • Can you let your wildest imagination have a say in the goals you make for your writing?
  • Where, what, when, or who is your sky – that ethereal, mystical ‘thing’ that makes you feel completely new and free?
  • Where, what, when, or who is your ground – that stable, dependable ‘thing’ that makes you feel safe?
  • What are you doing with your writing? Are you satisfied or is there something more or different that’s calling for your attention?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Respond to this newsletter email if you’d like to share. Meanwhile, I continue to send you . . .