In the fall when the leaves turn that shade of red and gold that shakes your breath
loose, so unnatural the natural, when the edge of crisp touches the air and the sky
turns blue again because it can’t help itself. In that time, the young girl thought
she was a horse on a hill. Her face to the wind, there’s always a wind, well,
more like a breeze, in that time on the hill not beneath her feet
but in her mind she decided she was a princess. It wasn’t enough
so she decided she was an artist. It wasn’t enough
so she decided she was a lawyer. That didn’t feel real.
She went back to only second not enough, an artist,
felt most real of all. . .
~ from the poem, Whitney Houston Sings
Grace and Me with Patti Digh’s book, “What I Wish for You”
Fairytales shop. New Zealand, 2011
Grace is the most unself-conscious, authentically enthusiastic about Life person I know. A complete stranger, she messaged me on facebook my last day in New Zealand. I hesitated, then accepted her offers of a bed and short tour of Auckland before I flew out. We drove about the city in her large, older-model car, joined others atop Mount Eden for 360 views, ate fish and chips out of newspaper rolls at the waterfront. The fairytales shop was not a place I would’ve stopped. But she said “you have to see this” as she whizzed past, turned around to pull in front of the only lit windows on a short row of dark shops. Inside it sparkled all pinks and pastels, flowers and glitter. We donned tierras. Grace shared our meeting with the shopkeeper, showed her artwork on pg. 109, my essay on 110 of Patti’s book. Then she read my words aloud with the joy of offering something grand. Hearing those newly published words spoken by another for the first time, seeing the woman’s face as she listened, was indeed a grand gift. I didn’t realize until now what it is about Grace that’s so enchanting. What she models so freely.
Here’s the thing. An article titled 20 Things Only Highly Creative People Would Understand tripped me up last week. I ticked down the list, ignored the exception (#16), noted how those (#4, #13, #18) tempered by years of self-helps, jobs, and heavily weighed Virgo in my chart made sense. I felt exonerated for my weirdness, wanted to share with my husband, say “see, see, I’m not the only one.” Until #20, They will never grow up. I didn’t bother reading the explanation. I was born grown up. Believe in grown-up, taking responsibility. I’ve had to be grown-up. Watching over my younger sister, off on my own at seventeen, no help leaving an abusive marriage, single parent for nine years, house fire, husband run down by a car the short list. I am not Peter Pan, I thought. I love a good laugh, have a sense of humor others appreciate, am very enthusiastic, but I do not ‘play.’ I wasn’t the mom on the floor for hours with her kid. That #20 niggled me, though. I let it perk.
Three days later, I woke compelled to go to the tea shop as early as possible (#15). There I met a neighbor for the first time. A writer others said I’d like to know. I also knew her by her Little Free Libraries, her magical fairy-like Christmas lights I loved. She mentioned one of her projects, a year’s experiment seeing through childlike eyes, sparked by her daughter’s belief “This is It! Every day the best.day.ever!”
Reading her online, I realized the Kidness I thought I had, then thought I didn’t have, is indeed inside me. It lives beside this grown-up who likes being grown-up. Actually holds my guiding principles and intents for life – curiosity, wonder, awareness, openness, trust, faith, enthusiasm, optimism, timelessness, giving, authenticity, love, kindness, presence. I write about them here on my blog.
Shortly after, sitting on my porch on a gorgeous day, knowing I hadn’t been particularly productive based on my current goals and tangible intents, I felt an overwhelming happiness swell inside me. I knew it by my heart, how expansive it felt. By the sense I’m on the edge of something big and good. By it’s companion, Fear. And I thought, this here, this is my child-self.
I went back, read the description for #20: Creatives…never lose a sense of wonder. For them, life is about mystery, adventure, and growing young. Yes. Exactly.
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writers Life.
A secret: I love Mickey Mouse
A favorite: Wildflowers in mountain meadows