One of the chapters of Anne Lamott’s Travelling Mercies is an account of a health scare she had with her son Sam. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective (and mental health), we had a similar experience this week with Gabe. But before I tell you about that, I want to show you this picture by Toni Frissell, a female photographer in the 1940’s and 50’s.
It’s from an underwater shoot of models all wearing white, fluidy gowns. To me, it evokes many things: surrender, descent, freedom, and something of the seductive power of depression. It also reminds me of the scene in “The Piano” where Holly Hunter almost drowns because she lets her leg get tangled up with her piano when it falls overboard. (Hunter plays a mute woman in the 1850’s who is sent to New Zealand for an arranged marriage. Her piano is, quite literally, her voice). She is very calm at first, quietly observing the water around her, gracefully allowing herself to be pulled down, down, down. Then suddenly it’s like she wakes up and realizes what is happening, and she struggles to free herself and swim to the surface. The camera shows her discarded boot sinking slowly deeper, while she swims up, towards a life that she is not sure she wants, certainly one she knows nothing about, but one she is not ready to give up.