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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On Being Lost

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On Sunday, Aimee texted me randomly and asked me to do something. I was sitting on the couch reading the Sunday New York Times. It was one of those lonely mornings and just her hello brought tears to my eyes — simply because I needed it so.

She dared me to get lost, to really wander and to eventually ask someone for directions. I loved the thought, but I had all of these grown up things to do — make an outing to the bank, print up tax documents at Kinko’s, buy groceries at the farmer’s market, mail packages at the post office. And afterwards, I would go to the Seattle Art Fair — because, even though I usually hate going and find the fairs depressing, it seemed like the right thing to do.

When Aimee sent me her suggestion, it immediately made me think of junior high and my friend Elizabeth Osborne. We used to get massievly lost on purpose. It was our favorite game, before everyone had GPS devices in their pockets. We wanted the exhilaration of it, the joy of finally finding our way back, the relief.

One of the best memories I have is of being totally lost in Sam Houston National Forest. I was in the midst of a break-up so bad that I no longer knew myself. I forgot what I liked and what I didn’t. I forgot how to exist completely.

And my first love Matt and my dear friend Paul offered to take me on a hike and geocaching adventure. Both of the guys were former Boy Scouts. Paul actually taught a class on how to use GPS — and had one of the devices before they were part of our cell phones. He brought his GPS device along — but forgot to mark our point of entry.

We wandered for hours deep into the forest, and as it became almost dusk, we realized we had no idea where we were. The guys mentioned the almost inevitable possibility of sleeping in the forest, but we pushed on as night began to fall. Eventually, we found barbed wire and trampled fearfully — and gratefully — across a farmer’s pasture. We emerged way further up the road than we had parked.

Luckily, a quick call to my dad (who just celebrated his 71st birthday today) yielded a ride back to the truck. We were worn out and exhausted — but adrenaline rushed, thankful and for me, what was the best part of the experience, actually lost and saved. It completely mirrored how I felt — lost emotionally — and there I was physically and literally forgotten in time and space — and our ability to make it home gave me hope.

So on Sunday, when I finally headed to the Seattle Art Fair, I realized that I had mapped the location incorrectly — and I had no idea where I was. I wandered for quite a while, then found a nice couple and asked for directions. It made me smile to know that Aimee’s instructions were coming into play exactly as she had detailed.

I felt worn out, but I was accomplishing my assigned task. On my way home, I stopped for a glass of champagne at one of my favorite spots, Barnacle. This guy named Paolo sat next to me and confided that it was his first night in the city as a transplant to Seattle from Minneapolis. He seemed so exuberant, hopeful, full of energy and possibility. I think I was that way a year ago. I swallowed my bitterness, my reserve, my worries about my own decisions. And I said cheers, this is wonderful, this is an adventure — and I wished him all my best before heading home, telling someone exactly what I needed to hear, feeling lost still in so many ways and yet wanting to impart a feeling of hope.