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Truths, Crap, Healing: Meeting Tyler Knott & Sarah Linden

On October 7, midday, the sky was overcast and gray as I hurriedly left work and drove around the capital city of Montana, trying to find a parking space. I worried that I would be late for a very important meeting that had been manifested months before, when I was still across the world, living in Zambia.

 

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Sarah Linden, a petite woman, with a welcoming smile and kind, bright eyes, sat waiting for me, as I found the small corner nook that she and Tyler Knott Gregson had chosen for our interview. There are some people who have a natural ease about them, with kindness at their core, and Sarah is one such person. 

I had emailed Tyler months before, not knowing how life would twist and turn, but explained my intentions about meeting him, asking to interview him for the blog I write for, Meraki, and lastly, wanting to hug him. Only in my wildest dreams did I allow myself to hope that such things were anything but crazy. 

Tyler arrived to our cubby hole later than me, and instantly shared that he had just been chatting with a friend and they were having a rousing conversation about how the Egyptians had been in the Grand Canyon. This introduction was fitting, as one of my questions was, ‘share the most random fact you’ve heard lately.’ He was floored with this new information and went on to explain that, “the gold from King Tut’s tomb was mined in North America, and they were seafaring people, not just on the Nile, and they might have gotten here over the Bering Strait after sailing up north through Asia.”

You’re just a walking random fact,” Sarah said to Tyler. 

I think I was in some kind of shock, finally meeting TKG, a revered poet and writer in the writing world and circles I am honored to be a part of through writing, such as Write Yourself Alive. I didn’t want to scream the news, or share it on Facebook. I wanted to sit there, across from him, and soak in every moment. Like Sarah, he too allows people to find themselves in a space of instant comfort by his presence. Almost like a resounding peace, broken with seconds of bursting raucous joy, freckled with dialogue shared between people who have just met.

Tyler and Sarah met some years ago and after shooting one wedding together, decided to start a photography business. “We knew this was so much fun. We started a company that night,” said Sarah. Three weddings the first year, seven the second, and then it just blew up. They both co-own Treehouse Photography and are currently dabbling in the world of children’s books. They will soon start their tour and release the book they created together, about a ninja elf.

Sarah gushed about how she has always loved children’s books and has been drawn to them ever since she was a child. An idea will pop into her head and she said she would tell Tyler to ‘write a story’ about it. He would. They have another handful of already written books done and waiting to be published. 

All the rumors are true – Tyler is frighteningly humble, handsome, and I felt grounded listening to him speak. Tyler’s words were heavy with honesty, and Sarah was genuine with every word – to hold the space for the two of them to share their work and lives was a very special opportunity for me. 

Sarah was shy at first, but after sassing Tyler about his word choice of saying how, ‘Sarah had dabbled in photography,’ she completely opened up. Her voice rose an octave as she said how she ‘hates that word.’ I couldn’t help but throw it in a few lines back, just for her. 

He shared his favorite quote, “To me every hour of the day and night is an unspeakable perfect miracle.” Walt Whitman spoke those words, and Tyler went on to explain that, “that’s kind of how I look at the world. I get lost in looking at things, all the time. Sarah said yesterday, when we were walking somewhere, I would stop and look at something every two feet, or I’d pick something up. She said, ‘you’re just like the kids! A trip with you takes forever!” That kind of Sarah sass arose a few times as we talked, and I was able to sit back and laugh a bit, as I watched the two of them.

It took a few minutes for Sarah to come up with her favorite quote, as I tried to push her a bit, asking her if she ever has a rough day, what comes into your head space to make it better? Then I asked if she had any tattoos. My thought was that perhaps she had words tattooed, and I know for me, if you ink words, they resonate with you in a very deep way. Turns out Sarah’s mantra is, “love is enough.

Tyler said, “Love is enough. That is YOU. It’s not my job to think of things for you,” because he had been helping me try to pry. Sarah responded, “It is actually.” Tyler came back with, “You’re full of sass.” It was witnessing this kind of interaction and love between them that made this interview one for the books.

I had a list prepared of questions I hoped would be out of the box, but the question that resonated the most, was when I asked them what advice they would give to people about living out your truth.

“When did the aliveness hit?” I had asked Sarah, and her response as her eyes met mine: “When I met him (referring to Tyler).” And simultaneously, all of our bellies filled with laughter.

She went on to explain how when she took photos for the first time, she came alive. She used to teach special education, but her eyes glowed as she explained, “when I lived in Seattle, I had no idea who I was, down to what I wore, I felt so self-conscious and uncomfortable in what I was trying to be, because it wasn’t me, but when I found photography, I really felt like I found who I really was.”

Tyler, on the other hand, referring to how he doesn’t worry about what others think, said, “it never enters my sphere. I don’t know how I’m seen. I don’t care.” We all giggled when he explained that he has had the same exact haircut his entire life. He went on to explain that, “I started reading Buddhism when I was 12, and all my friends drank at age 14, and it was never an issue that I never had a drop of alcohol. I never thought, ‘since everyone else is doing it, I should try it.’ And it didn’t matter. Bizarre. I think it’s so interesting how different truth is for different people, or how hard it is to stay true to it.

“I think it takes constant focus for me to actually be who I am… it’s exhausting,” said Sarah. The dichotomy between them is immense, as they both feel life very differently, but vibrantly.

 “Do you ever fear losing your creativity?” I asked. 

I totally fear that. All the time. It’s the same thing… staying true to myself,” said Sarah. I asked if there is anything she does to get herself out of that space, and she said, “Lately, I haven’t even had time. I think going on a run in the mountains is my reset, for sure. Creativity wise, with photos, traveling to new places helps. If we end up having 4 weddings at (the same) ranch, I was done. I couldn’t creatively think of new things to do there. But new places and new people give me ideas.

Both of their hearts are SO big. They choose to work with a few organizations and one is Krochet Kids. They are going to try to go to Peru and Uganda to take photographs of the people and communities the non-profit works with. “It’ll happen,” Tyler said. They discussed their plans to start changing the way they work, as they dream of being adventure photographers.

“That’s our most treasured thing about all of the travel we get to do,” Tyler said, and Sarah said, “Meeting people.

We’re pretty lucky,” Tyler said, and Sarah agreed. 

Sarah shared that she wants to visit Paris again, and we all mmm’ed, and our faces glowed as people’s do when you think about Paris. “I want to be poet laureate before I die,” Tyler said, and then said, “but that will never happen.”

I interjected and said, “No, no, no.. Just like this meeting, you put the intention out there.”

Ireland, Norway, Scotland are places they hope to visit that they both agreed are on the top 5 of their ‘bucket list’ places. Iceland, too. Nepal, Tibet, meeting the Dalai Lama, working as a UN Ambassador, work with UNICEF… “there’s a lot of stuff we have to do,” said Sarah. 

So, we ended the interview right then so we could all go off adventuring together.

Okay, okay…actually, we continued talking, and I was consistently humbled by Sarah and Tyler’s honesty, and the stories they willingly shared with me.

“I want to hold a baby cheetah. I want animals,” said Tyler. “The only thing I want money for in my life, is to have enough to give it away to family and friends, and I want to start an animal reserve sanctuary to rescue any animal, of any kind. And I want to be able to play with them all. And touch them. I have a weird connection with animals. I can bring insects back to life.

I think my face became perplexed and he continued, “You think I’m joking… I have videos… people don’t believe me. I’ve done it like 400 times. We are talking crusty dead bugs with cobwebs. I’ll hold them in my hand and think about it and the next thing you know their legs start moving and they crawl off me. One butterfly took over an hour, but it flew away and I burst into tears.”

He continued to tell me about how Annie and Jen, friends of theirs in Los Angeles, who run Tribe of Dreamers, a jewelry company with goodness at its heart, (which you should all check out) didn’t believe his stories, so found a dead bumblebee and “videoed it. It took me 10 minutes. The legs started moving – next thing you know it flew away. Annie called me and was crying. She said you need to try a bird and start moving up the scale.

Sarah said, “It could get creepy,” and Tyler explained how, “If something is missing legs, I won’t bring it back because I don’t want to bring something back that will hurt.”

I commented how it sounds like the practice of Reiki, and Tyler continued, “My mom has videos of me sitting on her front porch, and 14 deer, wild deer, coming up to me, and I’m handing them apples to their mouths, and scratching their ears, and the minute my mom came on the porch, (*Tyler made the sound of deer running away*) they run off.

Sarah shared a story about the bracelet she was wearing, given to her by a man from India. “We were in Omaha, Nebraska.” Tyler interjected, “it was hot there and one of the best lightning storms we’ve ever seen.”

Sarah said, “No, that was California.” Tyler responded, “No, that night, lightening every half second.” Sarah continued, referring to the man from India, “he said gifts from India are given in silk pouches. It’s the 8 auspicious symbols of Buddhism. The vase, the fish, the parasol, the wheel, the knot of eternity, the conch shell…” and Tyler asked, “how do you say that word? Conch?” Another flurry of laughter ensued.

We talked about superstitions and how they each have rituals they live by. “My socks don’t match,” Tyler said at one point, as we were delving into what makes people weird. Tyler likes tea, in big mugs, and Sarah needs coffee in the morning before she can speak to anyone. Tyler is a ball of energy when he wakes up, and Sarah likes to do yoga before she goes to sleep. Tyler always carries Altoids in his pocket, and Sarah ‘knocks on wood,’ and doesn’t walk under ladders. He is from the east coast originally, and her from the west.

At the end of our interview, Tyler said, “That was fun!” Sarah said, “I so appreciate questions like that. It’s always all the same (referring to other interviews).” Tyler said, “It’s fun to learn about you (Sarah), too. The ways you answered things. It was interesting. I didn’t know some things, to that level, I don’t think. I knew you thought deeply about how people felt about you.” Sarah said, “I wish I didn’t. I just am not that way.”

I said to Tyler, “It’s a blessing to not have that. It’s all perspective and we all have ‘stuff.’” Sarah agreed, “Totally.”

I was extremely humbled as the conversation closed, especially hearing that my questions allowed for growth between them.

I left them both with small, metal trinket hearts that my mother gave me, and that I carry with me. I believe in giving love, freely, and gifted them each with a heart, because each of them left an impact on mine.

And then, the interview ended and all went adventuring together.

Actually the interview ended and I made plans to go cook myself some CRAP, which I was informed is Tyler and Sarah’s Go-To meal. Chicken, rice (jasmine), avocado, and peppers.

Many thanks to both of these lovely souls for taking the time to sit with me and share a bit of their lives. It was a series of moments that I’ll always hold dear.

Much love.

 

Find them online:

Tyler’s Website: http://tylerknott.com/

Tyler’s Twitter and Instagram: @TylerKnott

Tyler’s Facebook: Tyler Knott Gregson

Sarah’s Instagram: @sarahlinden

Sarah and Tyler’s Photography Business Website: http://treehousephotography.org/