“what are your fears?”
occasionally somebody will ask me this question.
whether legitimate and serving to keep us safe, or illogical and working to hold us back, we all occasionally experience the feeling of fear. for me, diving is a response that reliably surfaces. i love to swim, but have never entered water head first. i was the girl, during high school swim classes, who had to check off the diving requirement from the side of the pool. and, while i most enjoy focusing on the current moment, sometimes i’ll imagine my life years from now and wonder whether i’ll look back and wish that anything would have played out differently. “what if” games are dicey.:)
i don’t know that i will ever dive. i don’t even know that i’m interested in trying…but i address the other thought through frequently checking in with myself to reflect on what is most important. love is always the foundation to whatever arises—spending time with the souls i am most drawn to, meeting others in a warm, open and kind space, making time for the things and activities that i enjoy, allowing my sense of passion and excitement to lead me in new directions and into new experiences…
creating life around love leaves little room to focus on or wish for anything different—
and makes fear, in general, feel a lot less relevant.
more feeling, less thinking—because the path taken through instinctive spontaneity often outshines the one taken through careful planning.
welcome, 2017. welcome.
“one day when you wake up, you will find that you have become a forest. you have grown roots and found strength in them that no one thought you had. you have become stronger and more beautiful, full of life giving qualities. you have learned to take all the negativity around you and turn it into oxygen for easy breathing. a host of wild creatures live inside you and you call them stories. a variety of beautiful birds rest inside your mind and you call them memories. you have become an incredible self-sustaining thing of epic proportions. and you should be so proud of yourself, of how far you have come from the seeds of who you used to be.”
“the sun shines not on us but in us. the rivers flow not past, but through us. thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. the trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”
“i dwell in possibility…”
tucked away, in the basement of my childhood home, is a long, concrete-floored stretch of space—my dad’s workshop. it is filled with wood pieces and tools, paints and stains and benches and, often, while growing up, the noise of various machines, the smell of sawdust…and my father’s creative and capable mind.
back far enough and around the corner are a few of my parents’ more personal things—things collected and kept from decades of beautiful life and living.
my brothers and i occasionally enjoyed playing in this space. it was mysterious and largely unchartered territory in our home. we might have moved a few things around in an attempt to fashion good hiding places, but we rarely opened boxes, opened drawers or looked too deeply at what was sitting on the shelves.
one rainy day, however, i remember coming across a small book. it was a journal that my dad wrote in while he was in vietnam. with respect for my dad’s personal thoughts and words, and maybe fear for what i might not be able to unread, my eyes only skimmed across a couple of sentences that day—enough to realize what it was and to tuck it safely back in its space…but those couple of sentences stayed with me. they went to work instigating thought, awareness, connection and understanding.
outside of an experience, none of us truly know what another soul goes through or what becomes part of them. even though i have listened closely, during the very few times that my dad has shared about his time in vietnam, those words in that journal, maybe as fresh-feeling in that moment as the moment they were inked, brought with them insight and a deepened sense of compassion. they brought an appreciation for what it must have been like to leave behind friends that had become family—friends who would not be returning home, what it must have been like to dig holes to sleep in at night in the jungle, what it must have been like to be forced to take direction from our government, what it must have been like to return to a home full of protestors…and what it must have been like to reenter the world of everyday living with a special brand of weight that, again, none of the rest of us will ever be familiar with.
we can’t un-see what we have seen.
we can’t un-hear what we have heard.
we can’t un-touch all that we have touched.
these are steady truths in a world full of ever-shifting boundaries and ways.
we can, however, accept and appreciate that all of our experiences come together to create who we are and have some sort of significance in the storybook of our lives. all of our experiences, regardless of how difficult or lasting they seem, support the growth of our character and our soul.
i don’t know whether my dad ever wishes that his time in vietnam wasn’t a part of his journey. i hope not…because he is one of the most brilliant, kind, compassionate and humble beings that i have known, and any change in the quilting of his life might mean a change in the quality of his presence.
we each have what we have, and we’re all moving forward with it.
to all veterans;
may what no longer serves be lifted and peace be with you always.
…a little like “earth, wind & fire” and a lot not like it at all.:)
it’s been several years since i have walked through the art institute of chicago. a visit felt due, so i spent some time, a few days ago, working my way through the crowded rooms of the museum.
a couple of rooms in, i started to notice that i was paying more attention to the people around me. an almost odd amount of focused study was happening in front of several paintings—as if there was an art professor lurking in the corner somewhere, scrutinizing over whether these people were dishing out proper measures of detail absorption.
i continued to stroll…right into a somewhat sad realization: i wasn’t really enjoying the art. i wasn’t enjoying it as much as i have during past visits. suddenly, many pieces seemed to lack depth. they appeared underdeveloped…and, as a being who repeatedly placed her rushed work up next to the work of college art students who clearly didn’t choose to spend the previous bundle of nights out with friends, i feel qualified to spot underdeveloped projects. ha.:)
i began to think about how saturated our lives are with digital art these days.
i wondered if we, as a group, are less sensitive to what people took the time to create and share by hand before we could create and share, digitally, within seconds.
…and then i walked into the rooms that are lined with impressionistic paintings.
i took a deep breath and felt a familiar pull into a world that i find mystical, magical and captivating. layers of color that invite long stretches of time for my eyes to comb through, and textures that i wish i could run my fingers across.
i walked toward these paintings questioning the past, the process and the present place of visual art in our modern world.
i walked away being reminded of one of my favorite things about it: each piece is a personal, intimate experience. what repels one person may draw another deeply in. what seems empty or flat to one soul might share a profound story with another.
whether staring at one of pollock’s abstract drip paintings in a museum somewhere or a scenic stretch of mountains just ahead on the highway, each interpretation is good—and each interpretation is true.