I Could But I Can’t…So I Will


When I was in high school, I remember asking my piano teacher how she knew she wanted to be a pianist.  She told me that she felt like she couldn’t live without playing the piano.  I thought about what she said, but didn’t fully appreciate her words. Because I didn’t feel it.

All these years later {so many years later}, I feel it.  And I know exactly what she means.  I feel that way about writing. And photography.  There are days when pen does not meet paper; there are days when finger does not release shutter.  But the urge {the tug, the tie} is always there.  I feel like I can’t live without them.  Of course I could.  But I can’t.  You know?

 It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. 
~ e.e. cummings ~

I want to write better, I want to make better photographs.  There is play as well as seriousness in this endeavor.  To write better, I must write.  To make better photographs, I must release the shutter.  I must show up and do this work that only I can do.  No one can make me better but me.  It’s scary sometimes.  Some days I resist…I get scared, I doubt, I crumble.  But I don’t think I can live without pen or camera.  Of course I could.  But I can’t.  You know?

And so I do it.  I do the work.  The play.  Those words, in this context, are one and the same to me.  The words {even if trite} must be written; the images {even if blurry} must be composed. I know this.  I feel this…all these years later.  Thank you, Martha, for those simple and wise, wise words you gifted me years ago.  I know just what you mean.

Of course I could live without writing or without ever shooting another image {these are first world needs…I know}.  But I really can’t.  I just can’t.  You know.

What can’t you live without doing?


Sending a little love your way, m


P.S. My friend Tara shared a wonderful piece earlier this week about what it looks like to live a creatively fulfilled life.  She shares her thoughts on this as well as the thoughts of a few others.  {I’m honored to be one of those others.}  Click here to read the article.

P.P.S.  For those of you celebrating Easter this weekend…Happy Easter.  And for those of you celebrating Passover…Happy Passover.  xo





22 thoughts on “I Could But I Can’t…So I Will

  1. Michelle, your post spoke volumes to me. Yes, yes, and yes! I have finally given myself permission to write and paint, to create in any and all ways that inspire me. I have always loved art but never considered myself to be as talented as others I knew…I know now that I had a fear of failure and a fear of being judged…oh, how we are able to tie ourselves up in knots! I now realize that it is important to just put brush to canvas, pen to paper, that when you have a passion then the doing is so important and brings such joy. Thank you for sharing your words with us! xx

    P.S. I love the quote and am stealing it! :)

    1. oh, grace, reading your words here makes me happy! it’s so good to hear that you’re making this time for yourself. yes to doing it and to the joy that follows. hooray for you!!!

      {and that quote is a favorite!}

  2. loved this post…and i feel that the things that are important to me
    are the same things that are important to you…camera & pen,
    sharing the story, looking for connections…:)

  3. I have been pondering this lately – what is essential? What is it that I cannot or don’t want to live without? For me it is the process of making – yarn, fabric, words, pictures. This is my intention – hold space for making every day.

    1. beautiful, juliann. i think, at heart/at base, we are all creators {and creating stretches beyond the arts}…but so many have lost sight of this. to hold space for creating and making every day…ah! so good! that intention, that action will ripple far…

  4. love this post, the honesty and the dedication. I feel that if we think it matters then it has worth. The world is filled with opinions, I think we need to listen to our inner opinions and be open to our futures.

    1. karen, listening to our own inner opinions…yes. there’s so much out there in the world, isn’t there? but listening and coming to what lies within…so important. thank you. xo

  5. Michelle, I feel your need in this post and it’s such a good thing! I too have that huge tug to photograph, to document, to write. None of us truly need these things to live, but what a barren place this world would be without urges to create…to make it a more beautiful place to be. I love this post…your words are inspiring, thank you xx

    1. jane, i appreciate your thoughts so much. the urge to create and make the world a more beautiful place…it *is* important. i hope you keep writing and clicking too. xo

  6. I love the e.e. cummings quote, it’s one of my favorite.
    I know that feeling, that urge that is so strong you must follow it or else the feelings would be to unbearable to mention, that is how I feel about photography. I want so deeply to take better photos so each day I practice. Yesterday I took this love a step further and ordered National Geographic’s Great Courses Fundamentals in Photography so next week I will have lessons to study along with Alex, I can’t wait.

  7. Yes yes yes!!!! Oh my yes. This is how I feel about writing. For years I was told I wasn’t any good at it so why bother? So I didn’t. And something was missing. For YEARS. And then the tug, the pull of the words inside that needed to be let out became stronger than the voices in my head saying “you can’t” so I icked up my pen and began. And it is good.

    1. jen! so.good. those voices of others {gosh, stories like yours make me sad…that anyone told you that you weren’t any good}, let alone the pernicious ones inside, can be so strong. awesome that you pushed past all of that. the beginning can be so hard, but you did it.
      i’m so glad you shared this with us…thank you. i feel inspired…

  8. Ah, lovely! Yes, could but can’t for sure. And first world or no, we can see what happens in a world where people are not encouraged to listen to – let alone follow – the tugs. I often think if everyone truly followed their hearts the world would be a very different place indeed. You write and photograph so beautifully M, the world would be less without your contribution. And thank you for contributing to and sharing my post. :) xxx

    1. oh, i agree on everyone following their hearts. sometimes i try to picture the world if that were the case. can you image?!

      {and thank you for your kind words, t. i extend the same to you. you are a light, a spark in this world.} xo


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