“I’m a big believer in framing. How you grip something with words is how you perceive it.”
CURRENT INTERESTS: Writing (especially poetry); photography; social justice; current affairs
CAREER: Author; journalist, SF Chronicle (29 years)
Deeply thoughtful and articulate, Peter has spent a lifetime reporting on the news and the people who make it. He continues to be an outspoken advocate for social justice, while taking a philosophical view of his own mobility challenges.
As a journalist, I want to notice, to understand what it means, and to communicate so that others can share that. Those are core values for me. I don’t know if I’m a real activist. I have had projects that straddled the border between activism and journalism, where I was using journalism to uncover injustices. I found that very satisfying.
Writing poetry is new for me. I’m captivated by the way it sets expression free. I’ve written poems about aging and disability—about pain, and about expressing the inexpressible.
The frame you put around aging is the way you’re going to live—how you experience it. I’m fascinated by the way people’s perceptions of you vary according to what device you use, or whether your hair is grey. For example, I have a wheelchair because I can’t stand a lot. If I go out in my chair, people say, “Oh, have you had a setback?” If I go out with walking poles, people say,“You look great!” because walking poles are more normal.
We have no guide in this journey, aside from history, experience, perception, and how we describe it, what we choose to notice.