Monday, August 4, 2014

Creative Dreams Adrift

Bits and pieces of me scattered around the house. Looking for an unlined journal, I located the paginated essay book I bought in 1970… a graduation from “diary” to “journal work.” I fancied myself so very mature at 21. It begins just a couple months before my marriage to Al… and ends with the entry of me writing an unsent letter, informing him of my decision to file for divorce. My writing in some of those last pages is small and tight and painful to see – almost a backhand slant to it. One of the last entries speaks of not being able to “find Linda” in all that was going on. 

And I rummaged through drawers of never-opened art supplies, which have been sitting there waiting for the creative urge to strike me. I thought I would like to take an unlined journal and a few pencils with me on this trip to the clergy retreat. Perhaps I could both write and draw my impressions of the experience, I thought. And what I found included a set of colored pencils by Mongol that I purchased for art class in 1968… and a smaller set I bought a couple years ago. Both seemed “too much of a production” to take with me. I am not sure what it is I am seeking. I don’t want to arrive looking like I think I am an artist… but who am I?

Fabric swatches rolled up and stored in a cupboard that was built to be a wine rack. I had great plans to make the guest room closet into a sewing nook, and I have fabrics I bought with the intention of turning them into clothing. Plans on hold, “a dream deferred.”

There is that in me crying out to create – and each week I create a message for my community and offer it up on Sunday morning. That is most assuredly creating. And somehow I do not recognize it as such. And I write my “daily pages” at least three days a week most weeks – and some of them turn into blogs and Sunday messages, and the notebooks are stored in boxes in the hall closet. And the freezer is full of food waiting to be turned into meals, but it is too hot to spend time in the kitchen. 

Is this that Divine Discontent of which 'they' speak? A house filled primarily with potential or spent energy… not much kinetic happening here, it seems. I am willing to move forward, and I don’t seem to know how. “Do what’s in front of you” – ‘they’ say that is the thing. So the computer is in front of me and here are the thoughts. And I yearn to paint, to cook, to write, to play, to release that within that wants to be expressed… and today does not seem to be the day. Not all essays have a resolution, it seems.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Which Side Am I On?

I was deeply moved by the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. So many levels of meaning and metaphor, it is hard to know where to start. I saw at least the first two in theaters back in the 60's and 70s... and saw the “pre-quel” in 2011. None of them have moved me this much since the dramatic close to the very first of them, over 45 years ago.

The script and the images of the incredible sets are so powerful they help carry this story forward. It is a powerful morality tale about the power of fear that drives us to our lower levels of behavior.  It touched places in me that apparently want to be explored.

The movie speaks to our higher understanding - to our willingness to know more about what we do not understand. And, it speaks of the destruction that comes from following the path of our fears rather than that of our higher selves - our “better angels.”

Most of the adults in both sides of the story have experiences of “the other” that evoke their fear-based responses. In a way, it called to mind the ancient story of the blind men and the elephant - everyone was totally committed to the experience they had, unwilling to consider there might be another way of seeing things.

Justification tends to look only to the past for evidence on why I feel the way I do, why I believe what I believe. When I spend my energy feeling justified for my response, I am not open to new “evidence” that would have the power to change how I feel, how I behave.

The two key protagonists seemed able to call upon their higher levels to find common ground and build trust with one another. And, it gave a very clear picture of the pain in both casts of characters that gave rise to the fears that drove the action in the story.

As the character Malcolm is trying to calm things near the end of the movie, his friend Dreyfus screams at him “They’re animals!” - The script left unsaid the obvious truth that so are we.

What became very clear to me was that this movie and its message will be seen by all kinds of people, and with any luck the message of how complex our relationships are will sink in at some level. People will come to see the apes and the special effects. The fact is, this could be a story about Israel and Palestine, or Christians and Muslims, but not near as many people would go see it. This, hopefully, makes the message a bit more palatable.

In the end, I would like to think that I lean toward being a Malcolm or a Caesar, and I know full well that there is a lot of Dreyfus and Koba within me, as well.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eulogy for Eddie

Round-faced, brown-skinned boy with sparkling eyes and a smile that could break your heart it was so beautiful and real. No fake stuff happening with that one.
House next door to the elementary school playground, right next to the wing of first grade classrooms, so year after year when I would be there after school to help Mom, I could hear the sound of that saxophone.
He did not take to it easily, so there was often more noise than notes, more sound than melody - So when he DID master it, it was by dint of his own effort and practice and passion
Because music was in the boy's bones - He was a showman. In high school, in that drum major's uniform, no one could strut the field like him. He leaped across that grass like there were springs in his feet.
And then there were The Bands... and there were some great ones (Salt Lick/Salt Puke) was my personal favorite - they were all better than anything you would expect to hear in a bar in Visalia, for Chris'sake!
And always, no matter how good everyone else was, he shone like a jewel. The music came alive in his presence. I always figured I would turn on the tv one day and there he would be, bounding up to the stage on some awards show because the world had finally figured out what we all knew... HERE was a gift!
Bright boy - bright man - big heart - and now we are coming to the end - to the good-bye part. I am so glad he was at that last class reunion. And I am sad and sorry I never said more - never did more - didn't know him better - didn't know me better. It is all, ultimately about ourselves. We are all too young to be doing this damn dying thing, All too damn young.
Let go when you are ready, Eddie... we will miss you - and you will never be forgotten.