Chosen surrenders

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Yesterday evening, I decided to go sit by the ocean and write a letter to Aimee. I have been struggling to write lately — whether for work or pleasure or simple log-keeping. A couple of times, I posted up at a bar with a glass of bourbon, pledging to put pen to paper and nothing happened.

By the water, with the sun setting, I found myself writing, “I want to be open to love, open to emotion. I want to regain the energy to grow and change and not feel so worn out all the time.”

And as the words came out, I felt a queasy recognition. How long have I been saying the same thing? I think back on when I first started writing this blog, during the Art Farm days, and reread “So the reason I want to start this blog is to reconnect with my old feelings about art, to highlight the artists that I believe in and to document my life among the artists. I am the one having the identity crisis, I suppose, and I want to fix it somehow.”

Sometimes my roommate Rob and I talk about progress. We discuss what it’s like to know better — and yet still slip into the same patterns.

There was something in the air last summer that made me feel like I could make a fresh start. And here I am basically longing for the space (and the people) who could make me feel the same way.

Rebecca Solnit writes in “A Field Guide to Getting Lost,” that “the things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration — how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?”

How do we grow into something that we have yet to discover? How do we become a new person, one we haven’t met yet — and what does that look and feel like?

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark,” Solnit writes. “That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from and where you will go.”

She encourages tiptoeing across the borders of uncertainty.

“To be lost is to be fully present and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery,” she writes.

The cadence of the sentence, for some reason, reminds me of lyrics to a Stevie Wonder song, “A seed’s a star/ A seed’s a star’s a seed/ A star’s a seed/ A star’s a seed’s a star.”

And as my friend, writer Carmella Guiol Naranjo reminded me on the phone yesterday, it’s a new moon and it’s spring time — it’s a good time to plant seeds, a good time for new beginnings and reaching out to stars.

 

preplungemeandaimeeAimee and I contemplate the stars, then we consider taking a plunge in the lake . . .

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Life is an experiment

DSC_0380.JPGCarmella Guiol Naranjo

Carmella and I are in the middle of the woods, huddled over a candle, on a wooden deck overlooking the trees. It’s been about seven months since we last did this –a new moon ceremony. It’s her birthday, and she is brimming with thoughts and intentions about community, love and friendship. I say that my goal is to stop spending time with people who I don’t actually like, to be more aware of how I spend my time in general, to make choices that are better when it comes to those precious free hours and minutes.

The next day, Carmella says, “I want to do more new things.” She has plans to go to Mexico this time next year. We sketch out a future trip to India. She talks about the next steps after earning her M.F.A.

My birthday is in seven days from today — and I too am full of thoughts of future. I have so much I want to accomplish. I think back on my 33rd year, and while it was full of highs and lows — and some very deep lows at that — I believe adventure outweighed dullness. And I am seeking light after all.

Last year, at this time, I didn’t even know Carmella. Or any of the amazing women I met at the Art Farm who have become dear friends. At this time last year, I was not in a good place. I haven’t quite put my finger on it — but I felt tired, exhausted, out of sorts. Today, I am hurtling through the air on a plane, day-dreaming of my next adventure.

To kill time on my voyage, I have been deleting old photos on my computer and stumbled upon a snapshot I took of an article. I don’t know who wrote this but it rings pretty true to me:

“If the historical circumstances had changed, the ancient purpose of literature, to say something about human life, never did. In every age, art is an experiment for every artist, just as, in every age, life is an experiment for every person.”

I’ve quoted this Peter London passage before in my blog but I think it’s worth repeating — “Unless a courageous stance to life is coupled with these ingredients [dexterity,knowledge, taste], tedious and shallow things will be made. Unless a capacity to dream and fantasize is there, derivative things will be made.”

I feel like facing fear has made for better art on my studio walls these days, and I look forward to seeing where the next year takes me.

“You never get nothing by being an angel child
You better change your ways and get real wild
I wanna tell you something, I wouldn’t tell you a lie
Wild women are the only kind that really get by
‘Cause wild women don’t worry, wild women don’t have their blues.”

— Ida Cox, Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues

To learn more about Carmella, who describes herself as “a girl with ants in her pants who wants to learn how to sit her butt down and write,” visit her blog www.therestlesswriter.com.