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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Taking a chance

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Today, I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary of making a major decision, one important step in getting me to where I am today, an act of courage in walking away from a toxic relationship.

Life is uncertain. A lot of people opt for the devil they know — but I believe that walking into not knowing is the better option, even if it is scary to take that first step.

I can’t say that I haven’t made the same mistakes or sprinted head-first into the same traps. “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other,” Benjamin Franklin wrote.

At least, we fools are learning, improving constantly and moving forward.

Freedom is a worthy pursuit — as is making an effort to surround yourself with people who believe in you instead of those actively trying to tear you down.

Sometimes all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, close one door with faith that another will open and let go of fear of uncertainty. Because uncertainty is inevitable.

My friend, the talented pianist Chance Hunter, repeated this Winston Churchill quote to me on the phone recently, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

It’s not that you will necessarily get better, be safer or forget the painful memories — it’s just that you have to keep moving.

And by virtue of heading onward into that wild, chaotic world, you will end up in places you didn’t even know existed and you wouldn’t have even dreamt of going.