“Space is the twin sister of time. If we have open space then we have open time
to breath, to dream, to dare, to play, to pray to move freely, so freely…”
~ Terry Tempest Williams
Yesterday was the new moon and my 29th wedding anniversary.
Time’s been simmering in the back of my mind. Another play in a familiar game with the Universe. The rules: I hold requisite trust and patience, open to a question I didn’t know I had, pay attention for both question and answer. My reward, the fun and surprise of synchronicity, discovery in chance meetings, written passages, or a TV show. This round’s probably sparked by a mash-up of a recent heavily weighted birthday with new goals that’ll earn me a Wonder Woman suit when achieved. Or. . .perhaps by my thirst for space.
For seventeen years my husband Art and I lived apart. He in big cities for jobs during the week, me in smaller arts oriented enclaves where he joined me on weekends. At first he called 6:30am every day. Then, not. In solitude I learned my rhythms, my preferences, my vast imagination. Enjoyed autonomy in decisions on top of my duties of household finances and maintenance. I worked outside home, worked at home, never felt lonely or bored. After I wrote my first novel, I created a writer’s life. It took seven months to clear my commitments to others. To carry uninterrupted the worlds of my imagination as I fixed food, washed clothes, took walks, did errands, wrote. As I wandered, gazed out windows, listened when stuck. Seven weeks into my new writer’s life a car struck Art as he walked on a sidewalk. Care-taking, advocacy, dealing with insurance companies, lawyers, doctors swallowed me. When he recovered, I traveled, eventually stepped toward what I’d resisted. I left friends and community, relinquished my solitude, moved in full-time with my husband. Soon after, his job ended, throwing us 24/7 together for months on end.
Psychic space to write, viscerally tangible as boulders to me, turned into fluttering birds impossible to catch. I floundered. On my yearly sojourn to Santa Fe, NM, I met Amando Adrian-Lopez, an artist I related to for his work seemingly born of dreams and stories – fantastical mixed media sculptures of angels, allegorical spirits and vignettes, paintings of women with flowers, birds, and spirits clearly inspired by his Mexican Indian heritage. He told me about the novel he’s writing and illustrating. We talked a long time about the process of creating such work. How he needs solitude. How the space he inhabits while alone, the psychic space, allows him to see the visions, hear the voices of the materials he works with. How he’s conflicted because he wants his relationship and it’s so hard to be with his work and give to his mate at the same time. It could’ve been me speaking, especially when he said, “If I’m working, someone walks through the room, says nothing, I still feel him. It interrupts.”
I beat myself up for not finding new ways to my work. I thought about JK Rowling in a tiny apartment with a baby, writing on bar napkins. It didn’t matter I later learned the napkin legend wasn’t true. Because the fact she didn’t clean house, “lived in squalor” (her words) as she wrote was evidence I wasn’t good enough, couldn’t sacrifice enough, was flawed for feeling clutter and crumbs an invasion when my insides scream for quiet space time. Then I learned Dylan Thomas, Roald Dahl, Michael Pollan, Virginia Wolf, George Barnard Shaw all had writing sheds. Samuel Clemens and Neil Gaiman built writing gazebos. Maya Angelou retreated to a favorite hotel room. JK, with her many rooms in mansions, finished Harry’s last book in a hotel suite. And best, a writer friend spends one day and one night a week in a studio apartment without her husband. It’s not just me.
Sometimes a journey leads back to what you know. Two weeks ago Art started a new job. His hours are long for now. I live with those twins Space and Time, again. And it’s still true Art’s added to my life, I’ve added to his, and my best writing occurs, as Henry Miller says, “in the quiet, silent moments.” Open space.
What happens in open space for you?
Another journey in mindfulness. Getting to Wise.
A Writers Life.
A secret: I always wanted a best friend across the street. Now I want that friend to be a generous good writer.
A favorite: Lift off in a helicopter.
Photo: LL Ori and Orion Nebula (Quelle: Nasa / ESA / Hubble Hertage Team)
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