The Notion

Metaphorically, most of us discard some things to keep hold of the other things in our arms, be it a lover, a toxic friend, a hobby that’s been outgrown, bad food, whatever…the importance of what you currently cradle is greater.  But, as we amble or race (however you choose to move) along our journey, those discarded things can be found glinting on the side of the road once again.  Certainly, picking up an old lover wouldn’t be considered a good thing, nor the crappy food that we kicked to the curb

But, some things perhaps they call as a small voice; not heard as a sound but a notion.

Even as I sit here, I am hesitant; do I have the will to pick up with this blog again?  Haven’t I said everything I wanted to say?  Who the hell is interested anyway?

In my arms, already a life filled with growing children and their activities. My time is spent ferrying them places, or exercising, cooking, cleaning, working…certain things that weren’t so significant when I started this blog.

I’ve not forgotten entirely what it is to be spiritual or mindful because there are moments, sporadic moments, when I ask “Am I still here?” and the affirmation floats up with a, yes, I Am still here.

So, why am I here?  I don’t know.  The notion to come here has popped up several times over the past few weeks, so today I decided to use my lunchtime wisely and try it out again; to heed the notion instead of brushing it aside.

Perhaps it’s a call to be creative again since that is most sorely lacking in my life.

Oh look, there it is – Creativity.  Glittering on the side of the road.  I can pick it up but what do I discard to make room for it?  Do I need to discard anything at all?  Can’t I have it all?

I’ll see.

 

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Slowing down outside the comfort zone

kb_Parkes_Michael-The_Juggler_1981Sometimes an opportunity comes your way that from first glance, appears to be a forced hand. You feel as if you have no other option but to take it; staying in the current situation would be far worse in the long run. So, you grab the hand that’s offered and fly with it.

Some time passes in this new realm and you are actually rather enjoying it. You are challenged every day to think differently, to work differently, and to behave differently. You are learning and doing things that you thought were far beyond your capabilities. In fact, for much of your adult life, you laughed at the prospect of doing just this kind of work because you believed yourself not to be intelligent enough in the field.

You spent all of your life maybe, preparing for this sharp turn along your journey. Perhaps a lifetime of rushing headlong, of acting first and thinking later, of jumping without looking just wore a soul out and now it’s ready to take its time. Certainly, this new direction calls for thinking things through. It might take a little time to get used to but you are fortunate to have the support of some really great people who had the foresight to find the person who would fit, rather than the person with the qualifications.

The only downside is the lack of time for the creative side; writing and theatre have to take a backseat. When you ponder that, you’re not as disappointed as you thought you would be. Well, perhaps a little melancholy because you have so many efforts sitting out there waiting for more words to be added. You believe there will be time in the future to revisit but for now, you are content with everything in your life. You are fine and settled and just right with your world and everyone in it.

Time to cruise outside the comfort zone.

The Game of Life

When I was a kid, my family frequently played board games. A favorite was Scrabble, and later on Upwords. For those games, my Mum kept the letter tiles in a black felt bag; all we needed to do was throw the tiles in, hold the top closed and shake it vigorously. When it came time for each of us to replenish our letters on the rack, we’d just dive in and grab what we needed without peeking.

Life is sort of like that; and has been like that of late.surreal-photos-0

I was setting my tiles out on the massive, traveling board of Life; connecting, re-thinking, reconnecting, making good or making bad words, with more or less points when the Universe picked up the board, folded it nearly in half and tipped all of my tiles into the bag. It happens, I suppose. The Universe looked around nonchalantly while giving it a good shake then plopped it back into my hand and left with a smile.

Nothing traumatic had happened, just a sense of crawling to a stop with dissatisfaction in the passenger seat. So, I took a step back with my bag o’ tiles in hand and busied myself with other, less personal things. The bag was always there though, clack-a-lack shaking in the background; a reminder that soon, sooner, soonest I’ll need to return and place my tiles in a more pleasing manner.

How unwriterly of me to step away from my imagination. I might be crucified by some diehards with their pointed fingers; “You must write every day!” I can hear the cry.

How soulless of me to step away from the cushion for so long that I’ve forgotten the last time I came face to face with my essence.

The platform that helped to shape me over the past while is going through a necessary crumble, and a change is due. Perhaps it’s a reset; the letters are present, after all. I’m about ready to reach into the void and arrange them just so on my board. Ready to return to the stomping ground of my soul and look upon it with fresh eyes, and create some new crisp, thing.

Slowly, slowly, play the Board Game of Life.

 

 

Heart of a Writer

“A writer, if he is any good, does not describe. He invents or makes out of knowledge personal and impersonal and sometimes he seems to have unexplained knowledge which could come from forgotten racial or family experience… If you describe someone, it is flat, as a photograph is, and from my standpoint a failure. If you make him up from what you know, there should be all the dimensions.”

So sayeth Ernest Hemingway.

A fledgling writer, I am but I hesitate to even use the word writer since it feels like a title to be earned. But what is there below that? A dawdler, a doodler, a thinker without following through-er?

I don’t brag about my creations; trust me, much of it is not worth bragging about, and I feel a sort of vague disgust when people do. Therein I think, lies my biggest obstacle; judging vs. understanding. Since coming into awareness, and the belief that we are all created equal, having the capacity for so much love, I balk at labeling people.

There was a guy standing on the edge of a very busy road. He was thin, wearing thick glasses, droopy clothing, holding a single grocery bag, waiting for a break in the traffic to be able to cross. I saw him for three seconds, tops, and in that time the first thought that came to mind was that he must be poor. His lips were moving so he must be slightly off-kilter to be talking to himself, and as he stood there he shuffled his feet alternately. I drove by with those first impressions. The image ruminated, and the things that weren’t so obvious came into view; he had been smiling with an open face, the glasses might have been a different prescription than he needed because his mouth was open and his teeth were plainly visible as he strained to see clearly. Most of all, he looked happy. Just happy with who he was, where he was and what he was doing, and even where he was headed to, maybe.

There was a woman behind me at the drugstore. She was talking to a young man, who I assumed was her son. She was brusque, and bullish, striking down everything he said with a harsh “Nope.” It seemed that her son hadn’t received some money that he was owed, and she was sure that if the funds did come through, it wouldn’t be the full amount, or the person owing would renege on the whole thing. She was quite successful in degrading both her son and the unknown person in public. Finally, she grudgingly agreed to lend her son the money (which, no doubt, he would be hounded to pay back very soon) and made her way to the ATM at the front of the store. In order to get there, she had to walk by me. She addressed the floor with her “excuse me” and as she shoved by, I had the clearest vision of the kind of person she was. At a gathering perhaps, she would be the one listening to, sharing and taking in all the gossip, storing it away, to be reproduced some other time when it would serve a juicy purpose. She would be the one who knew more than you, and would verbally stamp all over any opinion that differed from hers. She ate fast food. She smoked. She judged with a flick of her eyes and could see nothing of a stranger beyond the surface.

What a strange position for me to be in. With a writer’s mind, I see the characters as they are, in an environment of my choosing, playing out scenes and conversations as I imagine would befit their personalities. Then the Buddha mind speaks up and gently reminds me that it is unkind to judge people; to pigeonhole.

I have struggled with this notion for a while: when you receive inspiration from what is around you, what has happened to you, what you have experienced, who you see, how they behave, how do you vanquish the idea of being judgmental to get down to the creative nitty gritty?

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

And right there, it’s quite simple.

The guy crossing the road, the woman in the drugstore; no matter where I put them, they gotta have roots. So that instead of painting a vapid picture, I create a statue with parts and pieces pulled from many memories, an outline that I can fill in with what’s in my mind. Judgment is eliminated and in its place, an open heart and mind, delving into what is already known.

But still, you won’t read about what I’m working on, why I’ve been away, have you missed my writing, and oh, this will be great for my next book. Because I’m not trying to elicit your comments or your personal strokes. That’s just the ego talking, so write like it’s your soul on the page and keep your torment to yourself.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

twins-beryl-cook-810905928-500x500

Afloat in a Shandy Sea.

Creativity is lounging somewhere getting drunk at a bar.  It’s stalled on writing but became ever so quietly excited at Goodwill when I purchased an outfit destined to be zombiefied.  I quietly plan on the sidelines while thinking of other things.  I love that talent.  The ideas form and gel in the background.  I stand back, press my finger to my lips, take out this, add that.  All the while, I’m checking ingredients in food, cooking dinner, doing laundry, thinking about things, worrying about my son.  Life rolls forward in an endless stream but behind the scenes, the nature of me does what it does best:  Plans, creates.  And I know when I have all I need in front of me, the thing that I’ve been visualizing will come to be as imagined.

The practical side has stepped up.  But I have a little bitch with a whip silently berating me for not making any progress with my writing.  I feel guilty which is so not the frame of mind from which to be doing this.  I sit down and write anyway, delete what I’ve written, start again, become dissatisfied and give up altogether.  I think perhaps I put too much pressure on myself to write long.  And by long, I don’t mean the length of time, rather the length of the piece.  It appears that I’m pretty good at flash fiction.  If only, I think, if only I could stretch out those 100 word pieces to thousands.  Driving in the car, I think well, I’m in my mid-forties…maybe I’ll have it together in my fifties – I’ve got plenty of time!

If I do, I do.  If not, well, at least I have two great kids, right?  That’s some wonderful creation right there.

I’m astonished that how day after day, week after week, I’m still surprised at the ebb and flow of life.  Of love.  Of feelings.  Of the past.  Monkeys occasionally jump on for a quick ride (sometimes the same terribly stupid monkey who won’t quit), sometimes I’m up and free of burden, sometimes I’m weighed down and sometimes, like this week, I’m treading water.  It’s probably a good thing to feel astonished because the alternative would be very boring.

At once, I’m feeling ironic.  Opposite.  Paradoxical.  This AND that.  Pushed and pulled.

I’ll keep myself buoyed with some disco. It reminds me of my little nine year-old world that came with this:

photo-of-old-portable-record-playerso that I could play and dance and sing to this.  All lip-syched and cheesy, perfect!

Daily Prompt – Opposite Day: A Piece of Poetry

From the Daily Prompt – Opposite Day.

What would the opposite be of the usual offerings here?  Most often, you will find flash fiction (a relatively new endeavor for me) or an entry regarding some kind of spiritual aspect/direction/query about life in general.

Mulling it over, it would be easy to share a photo.  But I don’t want to do that…I want a challenge today.  So I will attempt to knock up a piece of poetry.  Not my forte; I feel my poetry (much like my writing) is juvenile and often what I visualize in my head, translates very differently in writing.  So, here goes:

 

Like a thin veneer

Sheeting wide across the mind

Withholding tantalous words

And phrases, thoughts.

It’s all there, though squinted

beyond reach.

What will it take for the first sliver

to breathe through the sheet?

For the first magnificent expression

to slip through for me?

Then a burst, a torrent

And flood.

I shall bathe in the wordfall

And squirrel my pen

And write, write, write.

Oh, when?

 

Thank you, come again.

Just Write.

rollerskate

I read This blog yesterday and felt the familiar “Yes!”  ohmygod, yes!

Ideas for stories pile up in my head, occasionally filtering through enough to enable a creative outlet and the start of some kind of story…be it flash fiction, a short story or who knows what else, how long or where it’s going.  Too many ideas up the wazoo and I am frustrated lately with the lack of propulsion.  My Springpad is filling up with unfinished work, stories that race great out of the gates but quickly lose steam.

After reading the above blog, I thought perhaps I had strayed too far from the point.  Taking advice too deeply to heart.  Holding tightly to the notion that no-one wants to read a life story because what might be fascinating for the writer, may not necessarily be so for the reader.  But, perhaps it’s all in the telling.

I have pieces and portions, events and happenings, some of which might shock or provoke tears or elicit a resounding mental “Bravo!” and so I began writing about a quick thing that happened many, many years ago.  After composing the story from two different angles, I’m astounded at how the memory has sprung to life… from a faded thirty-three years ago to now.  The colors are vivid, the characters leap from my mind, the touch of a person, the feel of the day, the utter dumbing numbness that encompassed me.  I have rarely given it thought over the years.  How surprising to find that it is all still intact but if you asked me what I had for dinner last week, I would falter.

It’s the kind of piece that makes me wonder what the people in my story are doing today.  Do they remember?  Do they remember me?

And, how can I trust myself to get it all down in such a way that it doesn’t resemble the page of a confused ten year old’s diary?  To bring it to life without going overboard on prose.  To simplify it.  To describe it in its stark, summer-filled way.

Take a step back and observe.

Much like the strong emotions in life – bearing witness as opposed to immersion in any event that invokes strong emotion, helps work it through.

Be honest and true to human nature, in all its ugliness and darkness.

Write.  Just write.