My university education steeped me enough ecology and natural science where I developed a different view about modern humanity and our dismal treatment of our natural environment. A couple years back I wrote this poem to give myself some comfort (in a sciencey kind of way) that the Earth will be just fine without our presence. I never shared it until now as it seems so appropriate to the times…
Beyond the scope of our perceptions
They live, thrive even
The precursors of life
That once rose out of primordial goo
Giving rise to our modern-day selves
In the span of millennia
Now they keep house
In the dark soil
In the lining of our guts,
Or riding on the currents of air and water
They are the good guys and the bad guys
Working the magic of digestion, decomposition, disease
Keeping life on Earth in a delicate balance
As they go about their quiet business
While we humans multiply and innovate
Thinking the planet is ours to consume
And ours to fix
In the end will come the justice of Nature
Indiscriminate of zealot, terrorist, or model citizen
From microbes, having no other intelligence
Than the genius of mutation
A plague perhaps, unleashed with a single sneeze
Our technology, heroes, and gods will not save us
The Earth will rest, then heal in its time
Nature will learn from her mistakes
And new life will rise
Our presence recorded in a layer of rock
Six inches thick
On that note…
Be well everyone and make the most of your social isolation!
His voice made me halt abruptly as I walked my dog down a country road. I was listening to a new podcast on my phone. It was a most comforting, soft Irishman’s voice, the kind you know the speaker has depth, an old soul worth a listen with total commitment. That voice was that of Pádraig Ó Tuama, the host of the podcast “Poetry Unbound”, part of the On Being Project He was introducing himself and the podcast. Then he began to read the poem “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade” by Brad Aaron Modlin. Not only was I was utterly transfixed by the way he read the poem, his interpretation that followed illuminated this piece in a way that I never could have in my own reading.
I came late to poetry, the reading and writing of it. To be honest there are few poets and poems I really love. I have been guilty of quick reading, passing over an author’s words like speeding down a road without noticing the scenery. But with Padraig’s reading and interpretations, I am finding new love in unlikely poems. He pays attention deeply to what the author is saying in each line and then makes the poem come alive to the listener. After his guidance, he reads the piece again so you can fully appreciate the poem’s magic.
If you are any type of creative person you probably have a cheerleader on one shoulder and your inner critic on the other. My muse is my cheerleader, that voice that feeds me sparky ideas and inspiration. My muse is the positive force in my life. My inner critic, in contrast, argues with my muse. She likes to shout words of discouragement and fear in my ear to the point I quiver with self-doubt. Unfortunately, she’s an annoying fact of my life.
I have come up with strategies to deal with this bitchy pest that tries to drown out the voice of my sweet muse. One of them was to give her a name and draw a picture of what she looks like….
Helga, my IC, is an ample pickle-shaped-figure with spiny whiskers protruding all over her grotesque, gelatinous body. She has a high whiney voice resembling the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. The only facial expression she has is a grimacing frown of disapproval.
Daphne, my muse is a sprite of a being that emits light from her colorful body. She dances with joy and speaks to me in cheerful songs of encouragement. Her voice is softer than Helga’s and can be easily drowned out.
I’ve become more adept at isolating those two voices by putting an identity to each. When Helga gets too annoying I visualize swiping her off my shoulder with a THWACK and then dropkicking her out the door. (So satisfying).
Inner critics tend to love periods of creative inactivity. The best way to keep the beast off your shoulder is to diligently keep up your work on a daily basis in some form. Even 15 minutes a day of seat time can make a huge difference can add up to a full article in a matter of days, a chapter, a painting. Set a timer and go.
You can read about the creative process and motivation all you want but the only way to have to leave your squawking inner critic behind is to build momentum. The bike won’t go unless you start peddling. The muse loves to feel the wind in her hair.
A good intention is like the seed of a tree whose fruit we do not know.
George Bernard Shaw
It’s become a personal tradition to rather than make a long list of resolutions to pick a word to live by for the year. Last New Year my word for the year was “courage.” Looking back I believe I did the word justice (to the point of perhaps overdoing it?) I put myself out of my comfort zone by making a new body of work, participating in the Art Harvest Studio Tour, completing a printmaking residency, traveling Scotland to walk with friends & then to Ireland solo to attend Craiccean a week-long bodhran (drum) camp on one of the Aran Islands. Then there were a series of health issues that had to be navigated that took a different type of courage. I am happy to report things are much better!
Ready to give courage a bit of a rest, my new word for 2020 popped into my head during last week’s yoga class when my teacher asked us to think about and intention for the New Year. That word is “acceptance” with my secondary word being “focus”. I find one word can have quite a few layers to it and I am eager to explore where these will take me.
Last night I read the following poem I wrote at a gathering of friends as a toast to the New Year. I am very optimistic for better times and wish all of you the best for 2020.
“the comfort of reclusion, the poetry of hibernation” ― Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
This is a bit of a holiday card to all my readers. I am going on a “blogcation, a bit of a hibernation you might say to immerge after the first of the year refreshed with new ideas and new direction. In this 12th month, the time of pause, I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a rejuvenating New Year!
Being a creative soul, my brain is constantly mulling over new ideas and possibilities for my visual art and writing. Being absent-minded really means not being mindful of the reality is in front of me in exchange for the reality I’m experiencing in my brain. My head is often somewhere in the clouds growing flowers. A really annoying side effect of that part of the creative mindset is losing things- constantly. I’m working on it.
A few years ago I welded a piece from junk objects I call ” The Goddess of Lost Things.”On her arms, I hang earrings and I have lost in hopes they will return to me (there have been mixed results). Her headdress is made from a rusted pair of garden clippers, some kind of plumbing fitting for her head and various bits of this and that I came across for her body.
This month”s prompt for “The Nuthatch Society,” My petite writing group was “loss,” a topic that can be explored so many ways. Rather than the serious side of loss, I chose this everyday part of my life.
Where the Lost Things Are
Tucked in burrows, sheltered from the obligations of daily use
I imagine they are gathered
Possessions I once held in my grasp that broke free and claimed their independence
The khaki hat I wore on the Camino de Santiago, left at a resting stop under a tree
How I missed its wide brim as my eyes squinted and my brow perspired under the Spanish sun- such a lucky find for another pilgrim
My prescription sunglasses in a case of mustard yellow, guaranteed to catch my eye, my name address & phone number in black sharpie on the back
No strategy foolproof
The red leather wallet lost years ago that fit so easily in my pants pocket. Where are you little one?
Earrings – always my most cherished
The mates, now single, put into service as zipper pulls, charms, and bling for art projects in memory of when they made such a darling couple
Hats, headbands & gloves fallen from pockets on ski trails through snowy woods- usually the ones hand-knitted by dear friends
Sets of car keys
The scarf that dropped from my neck as I walked through the bonny highlands of Scotland
Then the myriad of expensive striped wool socks that enter the wash as pairs and then exit a party of one
At times the lost return by chance or effort
Like my favorite watch of silver and turquoise from Santa Fe
But not before I bought a replacement on Ebay
Now I have a spare
In the end, it’s the curiosity that haunts me, the perplexing questions of how, when and where the lost were lost
Questions I would like to be answered complete with videos and maps before I die
Have the socks and earrings joined in more diverse pairings?
What new adventures did my khaki hat have?
Unsolved mysteries that will most likely remain as such
But for now blessings to all my lost possessions
Thank you for your service and blessings to the finder if there was a lucky soul
I was out in the garden today “putting it to bed “ for the winter. It’s good work on a chilly autumn day. I looked up at the sky and the colorful leaves and said to myself “this day deserves a poem- just do it” so I dashed off to the house in search of a notebook and pen. Sometimes you just have to pause, be amazed, and write about it!
Putting the Garden to Bed
Under an intense blue sky
My garden disappears
with each whack of the machete
As I work I discover monstrous cucumbers
Submerged in dying vines like green submarines
And overlooked onions hiding below the straw
The parsnips pull out of the ground reluctantly as always
Sadly too mature to be good eating
As my armloads of spent foliage build up the compost pile
I sigh with memories of sweet tomatoes
And savory salads
I leave the dried heads of the sunflowers standing
It’s the growing season and my garden is being planted in stages. I marvel at the magic of seeds- how something so small can germinate to become a huge sunflower or a plant that offers juicy red tomatoes.
With the exceptions of weeds, seeds cannot manage successfully on their own in a garden. The soil must be tilled and enriched. Then once the seeds have been planted they must be nurtured with proper watering and attention lest they be eaten by some pest or choked by weeds. It’s work to bring seeds to their full potential of flower or food.
Ideas are so much like seeds. The soil of the mind must be fallow and fertile. To have a fallow mind, one must be open and ready to receive the seeds of ideas. Fertile means paying attention and being open. Ideas often come when the mind is relaxed like when you’re taking a shower, on a walk or doing something innocuous like washing the dishes. Having a head full of earbuds and social media is not conducive to collecting seeds the muse has to offer.
When they come, catch them by writing or sketching them in a notebook less they blow away into someone else’s “garden”. Then give them the attention they need to germinate.
Like seeds, not all ideas will manifest. Some are not viable. Then others are past their shelf life. Don’t be afraid to throw them out and get new ones.
I’ve had ideas like these artichoke plants that surprised me and grew into something much more than I expected. I started these plants last year from tiny seeds and now they are 6-foot record-setting monsters!
You don’t have to plant a garden. Just get a pot with healthy soil, some seeds, water them, and enjoy the magic of germination.
Recently I met for coffee with a friend that needed help starting a blog on WordPress. After building the “infrastructure” of the site we talked about content and posting.
This got me to thinking about the intent of my blog and how I go about finding ideas for my posts. Originally I was motivated my blog was to promote my artwork but blogs tend to evolve on their own (see I Was Supposed to be Blogging about My Artwork). After 2 1/2 years of blogging my posts range anywhere from the creative process to what is going on in my personal life.
When I was a young woman embarking on my life’s journeys I wrote pages of heartfelt letters to friends miles away (see Letters to the Universe). That process gave me so much perspective on my life and the world at large. Letter writing in our busy digital age seems to have become a tradition of the past. I miss them. Unconsciously, I think my blog has become a series of letters written to the universe. I have no idea who might read my posts. The important thing is that I write them and send them off. It makes me pay attention to my life- a sort of a writing meditation. I’ve been a bit inconsistent as of late. We’ve had some health challenges in our house making blogging more difficult to fit in. Life happens. You do what you can do. Continue reading “A Conversation with the Universe”→