lightly, my darling. by Maranie Staab

It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.
So throw away your baggage and go forward.
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.
That’s why you must walk so lightly.
Lightly my darling. (Huxley)


For years I’ve kept these words on various pieces of paper and come back to them when I feel as though I am pushing and working and trying … and yet, little is coming of it and everything feels, well, just a bit off.

I grew up knowing my capacity to work, push and endure was greater than many. What I lacked in natural ability I made up in hustle. This served me well as a distance runner and as a student, where if one trained harder and studied more “success” was likely to follow. I went on to run Cross Country and Track as a Division I athlete and finished my undergraduate education Summa Cum Laude. These accomplishments felt good but they also felt superficial; I wanted more and it took me until I was 28 to find and commit to pursuing what that was.

Once one learns to use their gear, photography begs for more than the ability to keep things in focused and adequately composed. The craft desires us to connect and to live with intention, nuance, empathy and a deep desire to better understand.

Intuition and energy, both that we as humans give off and that which exists around us are real and ever present. To be in tune with that energy, to know when it is time to pause, to pivot or to stop, can separate a proficient photographer from one who will create images that resonate and last.

At 32 I am still very much navigating this boundary but I find peace in having arrived at a place where I recognize it exists and embrace that sheer force of will is often not what one needs. Sometimes, we must walk lightly.