We’re often warned to be careful what we ask for . . . The Monkey’s Paw being one of the consummate cautionary tales.
I have always been a talker. It was nearly the only thing I ever got into trouble for at school. “Paula is a good student but she talks too much” was pretty much the standard remark on every single report card until High School when I learned to pass notes instead. In my mid-20’s when I landed a job doing Arts interviews for a NPR radio station 5 days a week, my father said “So, someone is finally going to pay you to do what you are best at.” Lately I’ve found myself tired of speaking in front of groups, after years of radio, theatre, outreach programs, teaching, leading seminars and workshops, doing interviews, writing and other sorts of word-wrangling for a living.
The day before yesterday someone asked me what I really wanted to do, if the whole issue of making money to pay bills were erased from the equation. I said I’d spend less time giving seminars and classes and spend most of my working time in my studio making art and hopefully communicating through my artwork.
Yesterday I was struck with laryngitis. The juxtaposition of these two events is not lost on me.
I’m confident that my enforced silence is temporary, but it got me to thinking about the whole issue of “losing your voice” and how prevalent it is even when we are in hot pursuit of our passion.
I’ve always been happiest when I am creating something. Set me loose in a studio with tons of art supplies and random stuff and I won’t come out until I’m really hungry. Yet somehow, over and over again I get sidetracked by the talking. Don’t get me wrong talking about the need for creating and creativity IS one of my passions and I think the message is worth spreading. However when it takes over and leaves me no time for actually creating . . . things get out of balance.
So I am taking this time of enforced silence as both a warning and gift. I’m going to spend more time in the studio and less online. I’m going to attempt to restore the balance and find my voice again.
I’m drawn to blank books like bees to blossoms . . . in my life I’ve probably owned hundreds of them. All sizes, tiny ones that fit in a skirt pocket, paperback size, large volumes with hard covers, handmade paper with leather covers, mulberry paper in bright hues, moleskins, school exercise books with quadrant ruled lines, blank paper, thick ones, thin ones, stapled, stitched, glued, brown paper covers inked with designs, shiny card stock covers collaged with layers of meaning, cloth stamped and gilded . . . a recent gift book has two fuzzy whimsical elephants with floppy ears!
What it is it about these books that is so irresistible?
I think the attraction is two-fold.
There is something so tempting about a collection of blank pages, a place to collect images and ideas, thoughts and emotions. For me these books are fair game for anything, from to-do lists to poetry, from pressed flowers and leaves collected along the way to exotic labels from foreign food and drink. Fruit stickers, beer labels and stamps are all equally likely to end up on the pages of my journals, along with sketches, quotes and ideas for articles and blog posts.
Once they are filled they take on a different job, they become my own personal cross between search engine and oracle. I open them often, sometimes in search of a particular bit I remember is there, sometimes because I’m curious as to what I will find. They offer up reference material for creating, reminders of what I was thinking and feeling at a particular time, and sometimes they tell me exactly what I need to hear on a given day.
Today I was tidying my worktable and one of my small books fell out of my hand and landed open on the floor to a page that said “I’m grateful for the reminder that today is the only day that we truly have” the rest of the page, still blank. Written in the dark days of the months following my husband’s unexpected and untimely death, the sentence was a part of my effort to break through the fog of grief the engulfed me. Reading it today, nearly a year after it was written, started me pondering the clarity that tragedy brings into our lives, and how easy it is to let that clarity seep away.
Whether we lose someone or something we hold dear, narrowly escape our own mortality, take a huge risk and come out on top (or at least in one piece) we often experience moment of clarity about the reality of time — NOW is the only time we can count on. This moment is the only certainty.
Does that change anything? Should it? It seems to be a lesson life hands us over and over. Some people respond by turning their lives upside down, some by taking on more challenges, some by letting go of old expectations. I think each of us has a very personal response to this idea, that there is only today, only NOW.
For me, each time I’m touched by tragedy, especially when I lose people I hold very dear, I find myself stepping more firmly into my self. I find myself less and less willing to be what others wish me to be if it does not align with who I truly AM. Today’s reminder was a less jarring nudge back to that place of claiming the truth of me in this moment.
I invite you to seek and savor reminders to be the truest you in this, and every, moment.
The winter sun is an alchemist, turning leaden morning clouds into gold.
Sometimes the world turns itself rosy . . .
no rose-colored glasses required!
You were expecting, maybe, snow? Parian Marble, lovingly carved long ago . . . where is white showing up in your world?
are there . . . even when we cannot seem to see them . . . trust and wait for the clouds to clear.
Aqua water shimmers off Paros Island, inviting you to relax into a cool and sparkly state of mind.
From a magical place
where goldfish take to the skies
as evening falls . . .
Palm fronds always keep their cool . . .
their secret? Be flexible!