In her 1993 Nobel Prize lecture, the writer Toni Morrison recounted a fable of an old, blind, wise woman, weaving the tale with the multilayered prose that only Morrison could conjure.
In her version, two children exhort the woman to provide them with an honest appraisal of life, as well as guideposts for their future.
“Tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light,” they say. “Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”
“Language alone,” they went on, “protects us from the scariness of things with no names.”
We find ourselves now in an often frightening time, with many nameless threats. But our combined wisdom — shared through language and story — can help us find a path.
That path is not always straight, though. Sometimes it means turning completely around. In that light, producer Marcia Franklin started a new online series called The 180. For it, Franklin is talking with people who’ve had to make a turnaround, either during this pandemic or in the past. By hearing their experiences, we, too, can gain a new perspective, one that can propel us in new directions.
You can find installments of the series in The 180 playlist on YouTube, and on the Dialogue on IdahoPTV Facebook page.
Inaugural guests include artist Erin Cunningham; Tamara Cameron, the executive director of the Boise Farmers Market; and Dana Marsh, the spiritual director of Heart of the Dharma.
“The process has been a 180 for me as well, as I try to navigate the vicissitudes of Zoom, a finicky editing program, and an aging computer,” Franklin says. “But it’s also been a great learning experience. And there’s a nimbleness that comes with being able to call someone up one day and record them the next day from my living room. We’re fortunate to have the tools to be much more connected than our ancestors were during their times of crisis.
“Years from now, we’ll be those ancestors, with our descendants looking back at us for clues about how we weathered this era. I hope The 180 will be part of that tucked-away archive that gets opened by a wide-eyed journalist or schoolchild tracing history’s breadcrumbs back to this moment in time.”
Marcia Franklin welcomes your story ideas for future installments. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Funding for The 180 is provided in part by the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation.