“People will forget what you’ve said
and people will forget what you’ve done
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
-Dr. Maya Angelou
Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.
- Mary Oliver
I love her so much I feel ok calling her “Mare.”
I am paying attention all right..
Paying attention to my tired skin and psyche as I shift abodes once again.
I am astonished by the friends I have in my life who are here, shoring me up and ‘re-membering’ my phantom limbs which now are adrift in their own orbit it seems.
I am astonished I still have the curiosity and capability to keep waking up and donning my favorite red lipstick as I re-enter the world to see what lights and shadow I see.
Here I am telling you about it..
Telling you the chessboard intrigues me.
And I still got game.
If you look closely at this sculpture you can see hundreds of little hook-shapes resting in what, for me, is a boat.
It really is a self portrait.
I remember the day I made it thinking of myself as a boat floating quietly on a smooth lake during a moonlit night.
I wanted to pull the light down into my dark.
I am familiar with the dark.
I’ve befriended it over time.
The hook-shapes in the piece are testament to my desire to glean.
My tendency to harvest.
I love this piece.
The underside is a world unto itself.
Pocked here, smooth there..
And the fundamental shape of an egg.
Fragile. Meant to be broken. Giving birth. Then discarded.
I am that.
This year I have learned a good deal about the power of two…
This man’s work always seems to make my heart feel bigger;
More able to hold the day as precious.
Throughout this whole year I have continued to return to this list entitled: “TEN QUESTIONS THAT HAVE NO RIGHT TO GO AWAY” I have linked you to here.
They are penned by one of my favorite poets- David Whyte.
Each time I read them I glean something- or- other that helps me feel richer, somehow.
Youth and health have this in common: the incessant rise and push outwards toward dreams and goals and future.
The tether is pulled taut in a muscular reach anchored securely in a self.
As a baby, we need… food, comfort, shelter, clothing, safety, love.
Slowly, we etch out a life for ourselves and cut the ties.
We swim out into our very own ocean; heedless of warnings about rip tides and monsters in the deep.
To this day I THRILL when I see a yellow school bus and realize I do not have to get on the damn thing because I AM AN ADULT! YEAH!
It is a heady experience to follow the sometimes confined experience of childhood with the giddy power of making one’s own decisions. Making a life.
Then- sooner or later we begin to need once again.
The sheen of an adventurous life spent oblivious to an end
Begins to take on a more opaque patina; colors and textures never imagined.
Joints get rickety and eyesight diminished.
The tide is going out now.
When I was growing up I used to love tide pools; those pockets in the rocks left holding an entire colony of creatures after the giant wave and out=going tide retreated.
Each of those creatures in in relationship to one another.. they have to be.. they are there together without the salve of an entire ocean to hide in, heal in, mask weakness, vulnerability and need in.
Interestingly, llness seems to reveal many roads toward wholeness.
I installed the piece shown above in a friend’s garden the other day.
Most of the work I created during my time as an artist is long gone..sold, thankfully.
I kept a few pieces back in my personal collection to enjoy myself and remind me of the ‘me’ that was.
Sometimes the art has other ideas and needs to go elsewhere.
Case in point: “BLACK FOREST.”
I enlisted two friends to help me install what happens to be my favorite work of art in a lovely and intimate courtyard with trees just off the home’s master bedroom and dining room.
I sat in a chair and told my friends where to place each object… “There..no, just 1/2 inch to the right..YES!”
They were patient as each piece found it’s way home.
I have not made art in awhile and found myself saying things like: “I LOVE MY ART!” “Look how inCREDible this is looking!”
When we were finished the two of them kindly packed up boxes and left me there alone for a bit to commune with the work which was so alive and tenuously sending down new roots into it’s unfamiliar earthen home.
It had already left ME and had begun the adventure of claiming the new spot.
I could tell it really liked where it was and I sat back and thrilled at the miracle that it was my very hands which brought this beautiful experience to life not too long ago… Not so very long ago…
I said goodbye and took my leave.
Just a touch of melancholy but mostly a lovely peace inside.
That life WAS…this one today IS.
I felt content knowing that somewhere along the line I have learned how to create a day, a life like that work of art; mold the clay, fix the flaw, enjoy the shape, send it through the fire and if it fractures pick up another piece of clay and do it again.
I wonder why my life has not been an easier ride?
I am talking relatively here as I’m fully aware I live in a place where all my basic survival needs are handled.
This very recent news I must relocate soon has awakened the specter of shame in me.
Shame because I do not have the luxury of leading a hidden life anymore- most of my life-theater is known by family and friends.
My vulnerabilities, strength, challenges, wins and losses on all levels are quite public.
People know exactly what is in my closet, how often I have to pee, my financial life is public and my have’s and have not’s have lost the sheen of privacy.
This is so partially out of choice as I write as an offering to you here
However, as I live alone without the support of another human in my home to witness me in these challenges I face
I have had to reach out to friends and family for help. In that reaching my life becomes quite transparent.
The rest of my family seem like they have such tidy lives.
I am not sure of this because they have not needed me as a support or shared the shadowy corners inherent in their own lives.
And so- I get caught in thinking they don’t have any.
And I feel ashamed about mine.
I do not have the luxury of a secret life.
On one hand this is a relief but my next breath has the familiar heaviness to it.
The only salve I have found for the quivering that arrives with uber-transparency is the act of staying right with WHAT IS…
Not what I wish for but what actually IS and the truly authentic life I am building by the very act of living with the pricks and prods of what feels unbearably vulnerable at times.
MS has helped me get real.. really real.
I NEED! I CAN NOT DO LIFE WITHOUT HELP! IT CERTAINLY DOES LOOK VERY MESSY AT TIMES!
If God offered me the opportunity for a ‘do-over’ life would I take it?
No… a thousand times no.
And why? Because I got this hand and I am playing it the best way I know how and it has changed me from an armored tank into a woman of substance;
A warrioress on the fields of chaos and more innocent and unapologetic in repose.
MS is the great humbler.
It takes one down.
But then we get up.
And we look into our own eyes in the mirror and see the one of us who had previously remained hidden-
The life-warrioress, the inner adventurer, brave and ferocious dark forest enterer..
Lipstick wielding, clear-eyed watcher,
I am all that.
And so much more.
So much more I’ve yet to be.
Look at this before going any further…
Is humble so bad?
Does my wobbly gait render me graceless?
Can’t you see how much closer to you I can be now?
How the space between us is electrified
Now that I’ve stopped putting so much energy into an often inauthentic smile.
An interesting blip has raised it’s head.
I must find a new place to live.
I gave myself a few hours to collapse in a puddle of victim-soup
And then I raised my head, dripping with OMG’s and why me?
I washed my face and put on fresh lipstick and took the dog for a walk.
When I spoke of boredom in the last post I was speaking of just this:
Being at the effect of ANY situation is a gargantuan bore to me.
Even this prospective domicile shift has me now turning it into an adventure which is far more satisfying. Even exciting.
My body can not even approach thinking about the mechanics of a physical move and in the interest of not exacerbating MS I have to know all the help I need to make this eventual change happen will be there for me.
The specifics of this are rife with opportunity to blame, make wrong, hang out in anger and do what we all tend to do when life just doesn’t go our way and we are tossed out of the comfort zone we cherish.
My life thus far has not been so much about comfort. In some ways yes.. I live in the United States and have been privy to the best of the best.
For now- I am being asked to see that comfort is here for a time and then it is not and then it is again.
The thing that seems to matter most at the moment is to be able and GAME to CREATE MY OWN COMFORT ZONE which has always depended on finding life interesting at the very least as well as looking for the gold dust inherent in any situation; THE BIG MYSTERY in seeing beyond the black hole has saved me more than once.
I want my life to be like an IMAX theater!
Switching back and forth between observer and participant and back again;
‘I am petting my dog… There I am petting Olivia’ or this: ‘Stretching out my leg like this feel incredibly great… ‘That stretch seemed to lengthen my leg.’
Small things like these.. not meant for the marquee.
And so.. you can today picture me paying my few dollars at the ticket office of the theater, still wet from my recent swim in the murky waters of “OH! woe is me!” and curling into the intimate wrap of the chair watching “CATHY’S LIFE” big as life in surround sound with a slight but easy smile on my relaxed and open but slightly tattered face.
A link to Reality check: