Creative Non-Fiction Revisited.

Photograph Martin Anderson. All Rights Reserved.


By Jeremy Wade Shockley

Broken glass littered the slope surrounding a deep fire pit, faces both familiar and unfamiliar greeted me as I stepped across the multicolored, pebbly surface, barefoot-ginger. The glass bits were now worn with time, or use, interwoven into the stones and earth that made up the surrounding hillside. A great dome sits, on the level, to my left, worn canvas covering the menagerie of blankets, a frame work hewn of willow limbs, a product of longstanding tradition and expertise.

Conversations were lighthearted among the men and women who had invited me on this occasion, a few stray sparks lifted from the rocks as they were ceremoniously carried inside, collecting together at the heart of our presence. Circular. What was said next, the songs that were sung, and the great blessings are private. They belong to those who were there, and those before them. I will say no more.

Blackness enveloped me, one set of senses traded for another, the sweet smell of herbs overpowering my nostrils. Mind, body and spirit set free- alert. The cool earth to my back, under my palms, the feeling of soft quilt on bare skin, the heat rising upwards, prominent and powerful from the start. Time has no place here, I search my thoughts and consider my future. I am present.

The light is blinding at first, strength and fatigue occupy my body at the same moment as I stand. Slightly bent, I move to the left, slowly, gathering my thoughts and paying respects, I travel towards the light in a clockwise fashion. I straighten myself as I step back into the cool morning air, humble and lighthearted. It was a good sweat.

William R. Gray

Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2009.

Will Gray: writer, photographer and teacher.

Will has led a life of adventure, with a distinguished career at the National Geographic and numerous books to his name.

We met in New Mexico late last year over lunch to talk journalism, and more recently I was under his instruction as a participant of a writing course at Fort Lewis College.

Will is generous in nature and a born educator! I was fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to put him behind the lens one evening as he imparted us with his knowledge of the written language.

Thanks Will!

Cheers, Jeremy

Voyages to Paradise, Will Gray followed in the foot steps of Captain Cook to create this historical nonfiction piece published by the National Geographic Society.