Friday, January 31, 2014

I'm a Puppet with a Heart of Gold

It's 7:30am on a weekday morning, and I'm still in bed, agonizing over having to go into work. Every cell in my body seems to be complaining about it, my heart feels heavy, and yet my mind (which drives my guilty conscience, my sense of obligation, my inclination to follow society's expected rules) somehow will drag me out of bed and into work. And I will give in. This is what feels so wrong - that my body, soul and mind are not in sync. My thoughts, words and actions are not in harmony.

How did they do it? The poets, the writers, the painters, the mystics, the dreamers? How did they follow their dreams in opposition to the rest of society? How did they not become slaves of money - its comforts and conveniences which I convince myself are necessities? How did they have the courage to follow their course without getting corrupted?

I have my own dreams, visions of a life filled with peace, solitude and harmony. And also of plenty. A life filled with what I'd like to fill it with - writing, painting, gardening, nature, photography, meditation, yoga, reading. And nowhere in there is my corporate job that's lined with insincerity and insecurity, that borders on selling my soul.

I am grateful for my job - it gives me freedom, comfort, and a home; and that's what keeps me chained for hours and hours each day. So I'm giving away my freedom of one kind to gain freedom of another kind. It doesn't make sense. And yet I continue on in this way, day after day, year after year, and pretty soon my life is gone. Is this my destiny? It might have been, but destinies can be changed, can't they? I can create my own destiny. I think that's when I can transform myself from a puppet, into becoming a piece of the Puppeteer Himself. Is that audacious? I don't think so - that's what I'm meant to be. That's what I'm seeking, longing for, life after life. Is this the lifetime where I might discover that part of me - my inner gold - so I can let go of the wooden shell? I hope so.

But for today, I'm still tied to strings, and the strings are dragging me out of bed, dressing me in corporate costumes, and dancing me across desks. And I'm unable to resist. Tomorrow I will try again, try to cut those strings again, those unseen, invisible, imaginary strings I'm binding myself with. Tomorrow I will turn into Gold.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mid-winter Blues (poem)

Winter Woods - blue violet sky - tree trunks - halloween - spooky - original nature photography - wall art - 5x7
Christmas is gone, the snow is all melted
Everywhere I see is bleak, bare and brown
It's enough to make a woman go blue
God, all I need is a bit of color and some cheer.

And then I see a blob of white -
The neighbor's cat sunning itself;
And when I looked out my window
Fluffy white clouds are sailing across the sky;
And as I drive along the country roads
The setting sun bronzed the tips of the bare apple trees;
And then I heard the chattering as they flew home,
Of millions of starlings rustling their shimmery wings;
And finally, as dusk closed in
The horizon shushed softly in palest pinks and prettiest blues.

Blues? What blues?
The lovely blues of the sky?
The puffy whites of the clouds and the cat?
The blushing pinks of the apple trees at sunset?
The softest pastels of the quietly falling dusk?
It was enough to make a woman smile!
And not stop smiling...


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Living on the Edge

I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of nights ago, and couldn't go back to sleep. My mind started drifting here and there, and landed on what I wanted to paint on the walls at the Nest. I decided on a pale leafy green for the living spaces and a dark leafy green for the book nook and bathroom. Then I thought I could hang my Thoreau's Cabin picture on the big wall, except I felt it wouldn't be big enough for that wall. So I imagined I'd write Thoreau's quote (not just the one line about living deliberately, but the entire quote that inspires me) on the wall around the frame, almost like a scroll-work frame in writing - around the solid framed picture. I recited to myself the quote:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." -Henry David Thoreau

I got stuck on the part that talks about "fronting only the essential facts of life", which kept going around in my mind over and over again.

As if on cue, when the snow came, it knocked out the heat and hot water, in fact all water. The pipes froze and burst, the boiler broke because there was no water, and so for 72 hours, there was no water and no heat in the house. Each of the three days, I sat in front of the woodstove feeding it logs and calling every plumber in the phone book. No one was available - the temperatures dropped so low that it seemed like every person in the entire area was fronting the essential facts of life. I brought in bowlfuls of snow to sit on the woodstove to melt on the fire.  Eating canned foods, drinking snow water, keeping warm by the wood fire - these were the essentials for three full days.

Go With The Flow - snow and trees - freshly fallen snow river - winter woods - Ed Parrish quote - original nature photography wall art 8x10

It is a new experience to live on the edge - on the edge of cold, on the edge of hunger, and on the edge of no sleep. It was stressful, a helpless situation, and the uncertainty of it all was the hardest to take. The bitterly cold snow was beautiful outside the windows - the branches like snow white lace weaved together, the banks of the creek like fur blankets of white, and the icy creek a ripple of velvet silk flowing through all the endless white. Beautiful, but cruelly cold. It's hard to be philosophical while living on a knife-edge. But it toughens and strengthens a person, makes one grow on the inside. One becomes intensely alive.

"Rural life intensifies the inner direction; it often makes for character at the expense of spontaneity and openness toward life. The struggle for mere existence against the fiercely changeable climate takes something out of people. Sometimes life becomes thin in consequence." - May Sarton

Fortunately for me, my life is fat. And full. At least, for now. And I'm grateful, or I'd forever be living on the edge, and there'd be no time for dreams or drifting, no room for cleanliness or order, no space for beauty and joy. Existing for that moment becomes urgent. Only when the essentials are addressed can one look around and wonder at the meaning of life, the mysteries of the universe; otherwise one is too busy existing, and cannot afford the luxury of "stopping and staring". So I'm quick to put aside my romantic notions about "fronting the essential facts of life". Instead I find relief, appreciation and gratitude for simple comforts of food, warmth and water. They seem all the more sweeter for doing without. Breathing comes back, smiling comes back, normal thought and reasoning comes back. But I hope I'll never forget what it was like to be in the throes of such terrible aliveness.