‘Like angels and birds, poems flew to me unbidden as I transitioned through fear in the dissolution of my marriage and faced challenges as a single parent of a young child. Perfectly rhymed chronicles of my heart and thoughts spontaneously sprung from my pen. . .’
This won’t be perfect. I’m sure I’ll be back to edit. Because I learned I transferred money in the wrong direction between banks, and I’m scary overdrawn. Which means I run to the bank before I wordsmith. Ouch. A too-full mind missing details as I create a new life once more. Time blocked for writing and biz making, then pulled away by surprises with works put out less than perfect, needing rewrites & edits. Writer Life. Real Life, too.
Last week I shared poet Maya Stein’s query: ‘If you were to write 3 poems this week, what would be their titles?‘ One of mine – What Space Looks Like. Space is definitely up for me.
Every other week I get a postcard from my grandson in Taiwan. We don’t Skype so these are my tiny snapshots of his growing up I’ll never see. I send him cards, too, but haven’t figured how to get beyond the little sentences about his storytelling contest where so scared he almost scratched his butt, or petting silka deer at the beach who like him. A huge wave of missing his sparkly love and laugh washed over me with this week’s postcard. I wrote two back to him. And opening the linen cabinet, the blue towel caught me.
My son’s towels were always blue. It may sound crazy since he left home decades ago, but I always have that blue towel in my linen closet. It holds the space of me and him together. Like the stack of cards on my shelf does for my grandson. As I read the news, I can’t help wondering what holds the space of relationships for immigrants & refugees separated from their families. I know it must hurt their hearts like it hurts mine.
Someone who knows said her calendar is her freedom maker (read, space maker). It gives her permission to stop, step away from work and live with presence in ways that give balance. Because I’ve always been a work-til-the-task’s-done person, I’m still working on the calendar part. But I realized guilt and shoulds swallow my space as much as any thought of not having time. They’re linked. So this week I practiced no guilt as part of claiming space in rebuilding my life.
I met a friend who’s passionate about tea. He created a little tea-room in his bodywork office complete with low table filled with tea pots & small cups + cushions to sit on. I love his gentleness, and how happiness surrounds him since he married his longtime partner last year.
He had three containers lined up, told me to choose. I smelled each. Picked the one that made my eyes light up. It’s complexity excited me. I didn’t know what to think. The leaves were beautiful, too. A mixture of shades in brown, black, sage, & green that touched the artist in me. He told me it was an award-winning oolong he brought back from Taiwan when he toured tea farms. It’s the most expensive tea I ever bought, he said. He shared how tea farms are passed to sons, except this particular farm which passed to the daughter. Because she has the nose, touch, feel of everything tea. Her father still works for her.
We shared our delight and evaluated the infusions. He marked the seconds of ea. brew for future reference. We’ve got to do this tea together, again, he said as I was leaving. And this wonderful man, after sharing his prize, was gracious in thanking me for the gift of tea I brought him. I felt wholly filled with space.
Then a friend surprised me with a $25 birthday gift toward a massage at Ojo Caliente mineral springs. I said Yes to the day she had free. Ojo is part of what we do together. Started 23 yrs. ago when I lived here. Every other week for four yrs. we drove an hour across the NM countryside for a soak. It was on the calendar. What made this really big is for the first time in six years I have friends with me on my birthday. After 18 yrs. celebrating my Santa Fe friends’ birthdays each fall with a lunch or other gifts. We laughed. We put it on the calendar once more. Space carved.
There’s a shot I love of Rachel Ballentine, a poet whose observations of the world around her are so sentient I included one in my book The Writer’s Block Myth. The shot is so intimate, it’s almost as if we’re voyeurs. She looks about five. Her dress is plaid with lace trim, the kind of an era when young girls wore such serious patterns in often serious colors. She holds a brush lightly in her hand. So gently held it appears as if it could slip thru her fingers. The angle as if it might be calligraphy she paints. I love that it’s a brush, because she paints now, too. What I love most, tho, is the expression on her face. It’s one of complete Engagement and Peace. It conveys what all writers and artists know about immersion in the creative process.
That creating is often an intimate experience, especially for writers, and conversely the space is huge inside us when we’re in it. Rachel’s picture shows exactly what creative freedom looks like, for big people and small.
It feels as if the world is losing space right now. Not just info overload, or confusion of what’s real and what’s not, but freedoms lost in a veil of lies and self-serving kleptocrats. Protections of animals and the environment dismantled for the avarice of individuals and corporations. Space to contribute and live healthy lives co-opted as fingers point and bullies threaten anything ‘other.‘ A new set of shoulds being created for survival.
Author Nancy Peacock hits home with this: “The artist is always. . .between two opposite poles. This is what makes the artist. The ability to exist in the center of insanity and still bring something forth – of beauty, of importance, a story not yet told, a line of song, a note not yet sung. Making your art is more important now than it has ever been, and this will remain true for the rest of your life, no matter what happens or does not happen.“
This is my belief. Making art and writing are not selfish or frivolous. They’re necessary gifts in the mix of Life on Earth and create space for all of us. Writers and artists are the Voice for those who can’t say it, hold the Vision for those who need it, are the conscience of society. Sounds lofty, but that’s what I’ve come to believe bigtime.
I wrote a book to support writers and creatives. To help them thru the snarlies of life so they stay on their feet to live, work, and create at their best. Writers and creatives and all of us living in the Real World need space to use what we have. Words are what a writer has.
So, what you can do. . .give a book to a writer. Right now. Because I tell ya, I’m not the only one looking for breath and space.
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
How do you find space in your life? Write me in the comments below.
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