Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thoughts on the Bailout, Interrupted by a Walk

Thoughts before walking:

What's up with this $700 billion bailout?

* * *

Thoughts while walking:

Aren't you glad your legs work?
Yes. Very glad.
It's warm already. The sun feels good.
I think that bird just wolf-whistled at me.
Can a bird actually wolf-whistle?

Look at that great sunporch.
I would love to have a sunporch.

Perfect blue sky.

Those coffee trees aren't pretty, exactly. More like distinctive.
This is where we saw the bats the other night.
Car coming up behind me. Okay, now I'm self-conscious.
Does my butt look big?
Oh, never mind. Just walk.
That's really loud music coming from that Hummer. Really loud.
Why is it so loud?
Never mind. Let it be. Just walk. And breathe. Breathe big.

Look how they keep their Asian dayflowers from taking over the yard.
They cut them. Smart.
Halloween stuff out already. I like the skulls.
What a funny way to do a sidewalk, ending it in the middle of the yard like that.
Did they do that on purpose?

One more hill. Legs still working.

Oh, that was a bluejay! Where did it go? I thought it flew right into this bush, but now I don't see it.
I hear it, though. It's in there somewhere.

* * *

Thoughts after walking:

So... what's really up with this $700 billion bailout?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is The Show

My signed copy of Patti Digh's Life is a Verb showed up in the mail last week, and I've been keeping it close at hand on my writing desk where I can open it at random throughout the day to read a few pages at a time. I'm savoring the art, the wisdom, and, most especially, the stories. One favorite: the tale of 10-year-old Emma at her first auction. (No, sorry, I'll say no more. Go grab your own copy and turn to page 22. If you don't yet have a copy, for goodness' sake get one.)

In the back of her wonderful book, Patti has left us a reading list for further illumination. As if her book didn't offer illumination enough. On the list were many things I hadn't read. Never one to read one book at a time when I could be immersed in half a dozen, it was off to the library for me.

In my defense, look at these titles. They're irresistible.

I've already read through Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which is 120 pages of kind and practical thoughts about art and art making. Here's one insight I love:

"Art is made by ordinary people."

Yes. Moreover, say the authors, the ideal artist is ordinary, too. Human, flawed. Just like you. Just like me. Here's another:

"What's really needed is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy for how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprise along the way."

These guys aren't just writing about art, are they. They're writing about life.

Speaking of which... in the midst of this influx of bountiful wisdom courtesy of Patti, I had what is probably the most obvious of epiphanies, and I'll share it if only to show you that you're never too old to begin to get this stuff. It dawned on me that this thing we're all doing, this daily showing up, this is it. I mean, This is It. This is not preamble, prelude, rehearsal, introduction. This is not training, preparation, rough draft. This is Life. Yours, mine. We're in it. This is The Show.

I told you it was obvious. So how is it I've managed to go so long without really getting it?

This is The Show.

I wrote that in big letters in my morning pages journal. THIS IS THE SHOW. And then, strange things started to happen.

I got a check in the mail for six pieces of art I sold.

I got a call to teach a class.

I got a request to perform with my guitar at a Peace & Justice event, where I will sing some of my own songs and get paid for it.

And I realized that these things, and a million other small things like them, are the substance of my life. They're not what I do while I wait for my life to begin. They're not side jobs. They are IT. They are The Show.

Reader, it is as though I've been dancing around the narrow edge of a great empty space that I've been holding open for the day my life arrives. Suddenly the empty space is full of what was always there. It's solid ground, and I'm free to dance across its entire surface. Has my life finally arrived? You could say that. Has it been there all along? Well, what do you think?

I said yes to the performance, yes to the class. I deposited the check and sent my thanks to the Universe (and to the sender.) And now I send them to Patti, whose book has started something. I'm not sure what, exactly, but it looks like life to me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


It happens every year. At the first hint of fall -- the first time I notice the changing light in my workroom, the first night the temperatures drop below 60 degrees -- I start to feel a little edgy, even a little crazy. I have to remind myself: it's September, the ninth month, the birthing month. Whatever has been gestating this year is getting ready to emerge.

Gather yourself, I say. You've done this before. Breathe, breathe.

In childbirth lingo this period of crazy intensity that comes at the peak of labor is called transition. Such a gentle word. Such an out-of-control experience.

So what is it I've been gestating this year?

The other day I dragged out my ambitious projects and works-in-progress that have languished for much of the summer in the recesses of my heat-enfeebled mind. I shook them out in the crisp air of autumn and tried them on for size. Are they still comfortable? Are they too small? Do they feel constricting, or are they so baggy and ill-defined I can't find myself for all the shapelessness?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. (I know: crazy.)

For the past two years this transitional ritual of mine has come on the heels of a five-day unschoolers conference in North Carolina, which has made the process of transition all the more challenging. Both times Dragonstar and I have returned from Live & Learn, I've stumbled through a period during which nothing from before seems to quite align with my returning self. Time spent among a tribe of like-minded souls clarifies my perspective: it's like getting a new pair of glasses after making do for too long with an out-of-date prescription. When I get back home, things look different.

So I'm fumbling along, carried on that wave of transitional momentum, feeling a little out of my element. Like the last few weeks of pregnancy, nothing really fits. My world is suddenly very big, and my work feels far too small in relation.

How did this happen?

As Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes said, day by day nothing seems to change, but pretty soon everything's different.

Including us.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Between Here and Home

I've been back for days, but I'm not really here. I'm still up there in the mountains... still on that porch, in one of those green rocking chairs, tucked behind the tall trees, listening to the sound of the creek below, and the kids and the crickets and cicadas.

My thoughts have run wild and refuse to coalesce. I trust they'll come together sooner or later. They always do. In the meantime, I'm attending to chores, weeding the overgrown herb beds in my yard, preparing meals. Washing dishes. Drinking tea and more tea. Humming a tune.

Do these things with care, say the trees and the creek and the cicadas, and let that be enough.