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For the price of writing them every day for one month I will learn what one hundred words can do.
I am exited to see the pictures they will make, the ideas they will carry, the emotions they will share. I have no plan in mind for what I intend to do with them; for now my only plan is to write. The question of what purpose the writing will have nags me. Is this just a game that I’ll play with myself for a month or will a worthwhile service be performed if I apply myself to the exercise?
It seems that no matter what one intends and plans, life is just a wander.
You might plan, research, and prepare as wisely as you can, apply all intellectual, physical, emotional, and moral resources, and doing that may help, but just as is true of any cross-country trip, things beyond your ability to know and control will affect how it goes and where you end up. You may coast easily to your intended destination, but just as likely, you might end up stranded someplace, steam erupting from your spent engine, and all landmarks you expected to guide yourself by demolished
I’m a no longer practicing Catholic; I practiced until I got quite good at it, then really considered basic practices and guiding tenets of the denomination. The conscience I had carefully cultivated in growing up Catholic couldn’t let me stay in it. I didn’t quit because I was fried by years of teaching Wednesday night religious education classes or because starting every precious Sunday morning by dragging myself out of bed and into clothing made the Day of Rest seem absolutely unrestful.
Out of compliance for approximately six years. I think I’m ready to talk about it now.
My moment of truth came in front of a classroom and began the lesson on the sinfulness of prejudice. I brought the fourth graders to order, of sorts, and began explaining it and some of the ways prejudice shows itself–the “isms” of racism, ageism, sexism. The Catholic Church, I was to teach them, doesn’t commit these sins.
Nor does it allow women to become priests. My daughter was in the class; I was the teacher. The program directors were women. There those educated, capable, devoted women smacked their heads on the Church’s stained glass ceiling.
I could lie or leave.
I didn’t walk out of the classroom when the hypocrisy of what I was about to teach the children confronted me. I taught the lesson which had at its core true ethical principles, and as for the hypocritical claims of the church which barred women from some roles, I spoke of that, too. I would not deceive, would not lie by omission.
That evening I was confronted by conflicts I felt in following church teachings. Sexism was the first issue I didn’t refuse to see, but others I had brushed aside remained to be examined. They’d been waiting for years.
It’s Friday, the last workday of the week. Though I want to skip ahead to weekend freedom and enjoy doing whatever I want to without feeling that I must have something to show for it, I’m going to treat Friday Workday as an opportunity to make home pleasant to spend a lazy weekend in.
The state of the household would have you think that it was the tail end of the weekend rather than the conclusion of the work week. Piles of cast aside gear and drifts of dust litter the living room. The kitchen is a giant petri dish.
I feel empty, though it is Saturday, when I am typically excited to have freedom and plenty of plans to fill hours with. There’s no enthusiasm to set me sailing through today. I wonder what smothers creativity.
This frustrating state brings two images to mind. The first is from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, when winds die down, leaving the motionless ship “A painted ship upon a painted ocean”
The second is Kurt Vonnegut’s, written in Breakfast of Champions. “A lot of people were like Dwayne: they created chemicals in their own bodies which were bad for their heads.”
Nasty stubborn bully boy
Tantrums, smashes all in reach.
“Won’t!” he pouts and reaches out;
Dashes treasures to bits
To safeguard his breach.
Ears wadded full,
eyes closed tight,
All petitions they make are denied.
He shuts all life’s goodness out
Yet won’t keep his poison inside.
Borne by snarls and hostile scowls,
Accusations made with aim too true
Hate he heaves that cuts family deep
Their spirits falter and fall and die.
Bright once, now all smothered lifeless and blue.
How dare he?
How can he?
How can he be stopped?
Quarantine for them or him.
Isolation is salvation.
At three in the morning what does one write about?
If you are just coming in from a long night out with friends, the question doesn’t have to be asked. You are tired and probably drunk. You could remember to switch on the alarm clock –you’ve got that crucial meeting at work tomorrow–or, that you missed your mother’s eightieth birthday celebration today, but in the state you’re in, most likely it’s writing the day’s one hundred words that rises to the top of your muddled mind. Don’t fret the subject. Finding the keys and pressing them down is achievement enough.
The phone calls and emails I sent out into the world on Saturday received answers today.
I made calls and sent emails out beating the bushes for human contact. I felt alone, the last human being alive on the planet on Saturday sending signals out in the hopes that an answer would come from the distant place that everyone else had migrated to or like I was sending a satellite out into the dark unknown hoping that something somewhere would feel curious enough about the strange thing to respond to it.
Everyone answering today is in the throes of misery.
“Artist Eyes’ is a state of awareness not a name for body parts. Artist Eyes do more than recognize features around them; any seeing person’s eyes do that. Artist Eyes see rhythm of line, blessings of light, and stories told without words.
People I know search for the definition of “artist”. These are people who write, paint or draw, or play music, some of them occasionally and very casually, and others who study their art and work seriously at it. They consider “artist” an achievement.
My definition of artist is someone who shares what their Artist Eyes see with others.
It is unfortunate that colleges do not synchronize their Spring Breaks with Easter, except in one case. If a student studies at a school close enough to their family home to make travel low cost both in time and money, two trips home are pleasant for student and parents alike. However, if that is not the case, a quick trip home for Easter Dinner and not much more becomes something which invites thinking over. Friday and Saturday the student will reconnect with old classmates and traveling back to campus will necessitate having Sunday’s Easter dinner at an awkwardly early hour.
The words “borderline personality disorder” in the interview on the radio brought my attention, which had wandered, back to the program. I had heard those words before, applied to someone close to me, but had neglected to learn what they meant. At the time my ability to function depended upon my shutting out any unpleasantness that I could. Unpleasantnesses surrounded me and battered from all sides. They fragmented the strength I had to work with during that difficult time; ignoring any that could be held for action at a later time left me more for the ones that couldn’t be.
Today the song “Mother-in-Law” came from back in the last century into this one. It began taunting me as I pawed through every piece of clothing hanging in the closet or folded into a drawer looking for something presentable, but which didn’t look as if I was trying too hard to be presentable. The opening line, “The worst person I know–Mother-in-law, mother-in-law” kept chiming in as I packed up my tote bag, as I got into the car, and several times as I drove to meet my son’s girlfriend, the girl who has him giddily happy to be with her.
Thirty hours of painting, knitting, listening to music has left me feeling like I’ll never have another creative urge or thought again. Just writing these words is difficult; this morning I could have prattled on about any old thing, but tonight I feel wordless.
Julia Cameron talks about the need to “fill the creative well” and says that the act of creating uses up our supply of images. I think that is what has happened to me, plus weariness after a weekend of other people’s dysfunction. Time away is the remedy. New experiences and distance will refill my creative well.
At one time, in some places, if not all, people stayed put. You were born someplace and though you lived a full lifespan, you ended up dying pretty close to the place where you were born. You hadn’t traveled very far from that very spot ever. The same was probably of everyone you knew. Barring war, there was not enough reason to travel to take on the hardship of walking there, carrying everything you needed to live. In that time, in those places, someone new showing up was exciting.
Life in this time is different. It seems that everyone relocates.
How’s this for something that shines the clear light of reason on one’s unreasonable way of handling something?
I was listening to the Cogknitive podcast. Each episode the host offers a life strategy. This episode’s strategy was a way to put things in perspective. Is the issue vexing you a real problem or just a matter of differences in your and other’s preference or tastes?
I found it easy to agree with her. Then she started offering examples of real problems to show the difference. Alas! My son’s “differences”, towards which I have adopted tolerance, are real problems after all.
The countryside looked transformed today as I drove through it to get to the weekly painting class. Three classes ago snow and bare branched trees worked together to give a view with the highest contrast. Two weeks ago the scene was more nearly monochromatic; everything looked gray. Even objects that were painted a color looked as if they’d been treated by a wash of gray. Today the world’s palette changed. The colors were still muted, but shades of yellow were added and the soil had dried somewhat, so bare ground was brown–many shades of brown, but brown and not black.
An interesting challenge was described in an email I got today. It takes the project this site presents a step further along the line of challenge. The email challenge is to write a saga in exactly fifty words. The saga is required to have a beginning, middle and end; no stopping mid-story is allowed. No further definition of saga was given.
Interested, but not sure what one would be trying to write, I researched the definition of a saga. According to online dictionaries and reference sites, a saga is a prose narrative telling the story of an individual or family.
I often feel apologetic about what I’ve not accomplished in life. I know women who performed work comparable to my major efforts as a sideline they did while accomplishing more impressive work. I know others who found free time in lives like mine to develop richly satisfying sidelines. I don’t know where they found the time.
I seem to need clear space to produce. Some children who grew up visited home this past week and I’ve shared my computer with several of them.
And therefore I missed posting my 100 words. I’m sneaking them in a couple of hours late.
The hardest thing to do is to experience life and then not become bitter from the experience. Why not just let your inner self become a chestnut hull, hard and spiky, which is a natural reaction to the carrying ons of most everyone you meet? Why try to keep that unpleasant shell from forming over your soul?
The best reason to remain a pleasant person to be around is because you have to spend all of your time with yourself. Staying good company and a person who is willing to live happily gives you a good companion for daily life.
The weekend is over and in the nick of time, if you ask me.
During the week, everyone around here acts as if avoiding me is the wisest course of action, so I have time to do the things that I want to do. On weekends, those hiding come out from their hiding places, as if it’s just occurred to them that members of healthy family groups interact with one another. It’s poor timing on everyone’s part; as they come out into the light of sociability, I’m eager to closet myself with paints, books, knitting, and to create Marvelous Things.
When I signed up for this month’s writing, I thought I had plenty of time to write the little cache of one hundred words each day. Now on the third day in a row of not quite posting them by eleven at night and rushing to come up with anything that will fill the requirements, I conclude that I don’t have all the free time I thought I did.
In The Artist’s Way, Cameron tells the reader to keep track of how she spends her time each day. What keeps her from having time to create? I will find out.
I’ve spent four days painting, working hard, determined to show up at this Wednesday’s class with a completed painting. The experimental technique demonstrated at last week’s class could hardly have been less compatible with the way I work, but thinking that if I pay to have an artist teach me to paint it would be irrational not to learn what she teaches. I resolved to work with the technique and finish by this Wednesday.
What do I have to show for it? I do have a painting. I just don’t have a painting I’d ever want to look at again.
A week of working them too hard has left my eyes sore when I don’t wear glasses to read or knit and sore when I do. My hazel browns are staging a protest. They’ve worked like slaves and they demand some time off. There is to be no print reading or mark making. No images of any sort will be allowed and the lights are to be kept off for the duration of their holiday. I – being the management – can impose inhumane conditions on them for they cannot leave the workplace, but acceding would appear to be the wiser course.
Pink and soft, the shawl lay on the sofa for me to admire. Almost two months of intense knitting expensive silk and angora blend yarn went into making the lovely thing. Occasionally I’d just have to stop my work, spread it out and enjoy looking at it.
But what did I see now? A dimple marred what should have been a smooth center line five inches up from the place I had just knit. Should I knit on or take the shawl off the needles, frog it back, and hope to get over three hundred stitches back on the needles?
There are inventions left to be made to improve the general welfare of the world and inventions that would just make time spent in it more fun. Some would do both.
Some of my invention ideas are more concerned with concepts than with how the invention works. I believe that a truly useful calendar would represent the perceived length of months, not how the days in the months are arranged or how alike all the months are. On my calendar, August, always over too soon, would be represented about a third the size of March which drags on seemingly forever .
Loving my children is easy but accepting each is difficult.
The child that a pregnant woman carries is a dream child. She may know that babies cry all night sometimes, that two-year olds have tantrums, that some schoolchildren struggle to get C’s, that teenagers rebel and make mischief and sometimes trouble, but her pregnant body’s chemistry clouds her reason and no dire reality is as real as the perfect child she carries, who will bring family and world nothing but joy.
Joy there is, even when the perfect newborn is but normal and sometimes even hard to get along with.
The April snow arrived two days early this year. People are tired of winter and upset that winter didn’t check the calendar to see that Spring started on Thursday and then have the graciousness to hurriedly pack up and get out of town. Instead it insolently showed them that the calendar is not the boss of it by dropping four inches of snow to shovel over everything.
I don’t join the chorus of gripers. Winter bewitched me this year. It’s beautiful, snow is lovely, smooth and curving, with enchanting shadows and sunlight playing in smooth clearings.
Am I Alaska bound?
When I was young, intolerant and confident that I was wiser than others, I thought the terms “recovering alcoholic” or “recovering addict” were dramatic bids for sympathy after the problems already handled. How long did it take one to recover, I scoffed. When would the person reach Recovered?
Then my heart was broken. I expected to spend some time contracted into a wad of misery, but I thought that I’d come out of it, that my practicality would push me back into life.
Now I’m back in life, but with a heart still only recovering. Maybe you never reach “recovered”.
Dear Spirit or God or to Whomever this should concern,
I don’t know how to address this, so please let one of the above forms do. Is it a sign that You exist that I ache to send this or is it just a sign that I really wish you are there with an ear to pick up my transmissions?
I see magical things in the world; music and water, joy and time that continues.. Please send new magic, the magic of healing mental illness -- deliverance for the ill, the people who love them and those who fear their strangeness.
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