Tag: despair

poem: dancing joy

Joy
ran off
like an unfaithful wife.

She giggled
and in her swirling skirts
started dancing
with others.

i couldn’t even be jealous.

It is how she is.

Better to have
a sliver of her kindness
than none at all.

Before,
eventually,
i won her back,
but this time
none
of my awkward swaying
has seduced her.

She refuses to move
into my arms.

So i wait.

i sing songs
while she twirls
with indescribable
beauty and grace
around others,
and i remember
the glorious miracle
of her fingertips
and her laugh.

14 may 2016

beautiful, joyous women

imageFor the first time in quite awhile, i was able to sit down and draw. As i wrote in my last post, i have been having a hard time working up enough focus or heart to make any kind of visual art.  Only a handful of pen and inks and two half finished paintings had come, along with a very small amount of pottery.

imageSo, tonight, after the errands were done and the snow started to fall, i let myself be romanced by the beautiful incorrupt smoothness of good drawing paper.  Once more, as it has so many times the past eighteen months, i was struck by how much joy the fluid ink manifested, particularly given the aching pain still echoing in my emptiness.  Yesterday and today, i have felt a bit like i am coming back to myself, but the process is strange and surreal. Half the time, i feel like i am still completely lost.  The other half, i feel like a mason, laying brick after brick, rebuilding.  “The reconstruction goes slowly, ma’am, but the foundation will be more stable in the end.”

imageAt any rate, as i drew, my spirit lifted.  i realized that there is something for which i need to be more thankful: the gift of joy.  Even when traveling through perilous darkness, i have been able to steal moments of joy, beauty, fleeting seconds of grace. i have held them all in my hands, glowing shards of memory, to light my way in dark places.  Tonight, i got a chance to let my fingertips be a conduit for love and happiness i did not see within my heart at the time.  If such a blessing doesn’t remove the darkness, it will at least warm me through this frozen night.

 

false starts

Over the past month, i wrote at least six blogs, then deleted them or never published them. Dozens of poems hemorrhaged out of me.  With each new one i thought, ‘This will be something i can share with the world,’ only to type it in and be paralyzed by trepidation. As i have moved through these days, i kept wondering about the kind of writing and art i want to share with the world.  Creating beauty can be a raison d’être on its own, but what about the art of change and chaos and loneliness and pain?

theoceanNothing i’m going through right now feels pretty.  Exhaustion and pain have worn me down more than they have in years.  Whatever equilibrium i enjoyed before has been destroyed. 

Unstable, i have been unable to find a new balance.  The most terrifying depression i have experienced in years gripped me to the point of death two weeks ago, and even now, i am having a hard time shaking off its shackles. Except for poetry, art just stopped cold in its tracks.

Unfortunately, i have had spells where i was not making good art for a long stretch, because of mood or physical issues, but to get so low that the desire to make anything at all just tapered off into weariness, that terrified me.  It robbed me of my will to live, because without this engine inside me, creating even when i am asleep, constantly driving me forward, i am absolutely lost.  i searched for my desire like the suffocating for air, but for days that seemed to stretch on forever, i could not bring myself to work. Staring at the half finished painting brought on nothing more than increased sadness and impotence.  i lacked both the strength and focus to bring even the simplest of stories or forms into being.  Sitting at the wheel stained my face with tears more than it did my hands with mud.  Eventually, my imagination grew so disheartened that even inspiration silenced itself.

If you had asked me before this crisis how much of my self-esteem is wound around the art that i make, i would have unwittingly lied. Until this experience, i did not truly know. Even as i turned like a wheel, head and then feet, falling into the pit, i could blame other things for my descent: the realization that my physical pain won’t get better without medical intervention; the epiphany that many things (particularly anxiety and depression) are not actually a matter of my being weak or undisciplined but are caused by my brain’s chemistry and thus also require medical intervention; the understanding that the longer i am paralyzed by these things, the more unlikely it is i will preserve the freedom to keep making art; and the sharp certainty that i will need help from those that love me, whether i want to ask for it or not. 

Maybe those would have been enough to cause the crisis, but what surprised me was that none of these truly depressing facts compromised me half as much as being so broken that i could not do more, or imagine doing more, than scribbling down maudlin poems.

i should not disrespect verse. Without that outlet, i would have been in even worse shape. Certainly, one of my previous depressions would have ended me.  For decades, i have given poetry credit as the saving grace in my life, a true blessing, a refuge into which i can tuck myself until the suffering abates.  This episode of despair, however, taught me that my fundamental needs have grown. i have rooted myself deeply into visual art, into storytelling, into clay. The thought of losing those made my existence completely worthless. Honoring the love and friendship i have been given felt impossible, when all i could see was how much my suffering effects them.   Even the poetry i was writing seemed likely to spread despair like a contagion.

i crashed on the rocks, but didn’t realize i had hit bottom until the next morning. Sunrise surprised me.  i shook with weakness and fear from where i had been.  Climbing out of that hole has taken many days, and i fear i am not finished. My footing keeps giving way, and i fall back into the mire, flopping like a fish trapped on land. Even as i start to make art again, pen and inks, a tiny sculpture, i continue to shake with the nakedness of vulnerability.

Now that i am aware of this newly exposed nerve – and still have all the other problems standing on my neck, trying to force me back down into the muck – i have to find a way to mitigate them. i must discern how to save my life.

But, i get ahead of myself.  i keep fearing for the future when the present is shouting at me.

In this moment, i am still trembling and weak from this spell of sorrow.  Sunlight makes me blink as though i have been blind. The warmth and darkness found under covers or curled up in the couch’s deep corners still feel so much safer, like a shell under which i can hide. When i do move, it is with the uncoordinated awkwardness of a fawn trying out its first steps.

If i manage to think clearly, in those moments of blessed clarity when depression forgets to crush me with is suffocating weight, i feel like even this crisis has changed my relationship with the world.  Only, i have no clue what will manifest from this.  Newness remains formless.  i can sense many of my give-a-damns have irrevocably broken, but lack the internal clarity to see which. My mood remains too fragile to aimlessly poke around the shadowed corners of my psyche; i am afraid what stresses and sorrows might come flying out and completely undo me. 

Nevertheless, without my seeking it out, one possible benefit from this crisis has been laid bare:

i have lost my will and desire to continue this dance of self-hatred.

i am simply too exhausted and my spirit’s too raw to listen to that music any longer.

For years, i have felt i had to be someone that i am not.  i have absorbed so much advice, heard so many suggestions as to how i could be better, and i have believed them. Indeed, i had a long list of my flaws and limitations that i was determined to transcend. i tormented myself trying to become someone who has skills and gifts radically different than the ones with which i was naturally blessed.   i learned bookkeeping, for heaven’s sake!

i am so weary of trying to remake myself; i long to find some way to exist, to thrive, with the talents and flaws that already reside within this skin.  i want to stop pruning myself in a fruitless mission to conform to a shape unnatural to me; instead, i would be wild, find out what can be done with nothing more than sunlight, wind, rain, the seeds already planted in my soul, and the love to let them grow. i want to strengthen my roots as i reach for the sky.

fallingintotheoceanWhen i fight hard enough to think about things clearly, i only see two primary needs in the short term, both of which will help end self-hatred’s waltz: to be kind to myself, kinder than i have been before and more forgiving, and to follow my still, quiet voice. 

Kindness and listening. 

Kindness and internal awareness. 

Kindness shoving a gag in judgment’s screaming maw. 

Earlier, i heard the whisper within, telling me to rest, to write, and here i am.  Perhaps i will even publish this blog.  With such a little spark of progress, hope raises its head out of the mud and takes a deep breath. 

If i give myself the gifts of kindness and deep listening, things might keep getting better. 

Maybe, soon, i will have gained enough strength to rise and start burning with word or image again.

7 february 2016

quick and dirty

reachingout_qadFor two days, i have been utterly unable. Yesterday, it took all i had to put up the open flag and sit here in the studio.  Stuck in my comfy chair for hours, i drew with a cheap pen on cheaper paper – a fairly primal purging of image and idea.  Even at that level of semi-solid, i still managed to miss a friend visiting because i went to the bathroom. While i was able to chat with some wonderful people, there were no sales and simply staying awake had taken so much from me that my legs wobbled beneath my girth.

By the time five pm came around, i was ready for bed. i tried, very hard, to get some cleaning done, but could not move my limbs in a coordinated manner. Breaking three things in less than ten minutes, i surrendered.  Coordination and grace have become fantasies when i am in that much pain and that exhausted. So, instead of useful, tangible progress on the problems of my life, i created more of this quick and dirty drawing while i waited for the sheets, quilt and mattress pad to finish in the washer and dryer.

i keep hoping that things will get better. i repeat “All will be well”; i meditate for over an hour a day trying to keep the wolves at bay.  Maybe this weekend, i whisper to myself, i will make a big sale. If i advertise here, then i will maybe get a bump on my online sales. Perhaps that website or this commission will come through.  This job might be the one that i take, which will make the forsaking of art sit with greater comfort inside my heart. Most of the time, i am able to convince myself to keep going with these quiet reassurances.

Only, the past two days, i have been struggling so hard to move and breathe – i got stuck in my bra this morning, because i could not lift my left arm in or out – that all hope transformed into delusion.

praying_qadYesterday, i noticed the trees behind my house are turning autumn colors. They have always been particularly easy trees, ready to shed their greens at the first quick breath of cool air, but their eagerness feels even more like betrayal this year. Today, the wind and the rain smell of autumn, and i feel the urge to grab the clock off the wall and smite it against the cement floor.  i would hold off fall with a sword. Time, as always, shows no regard for my needs or wants and just keeps charging on like an angry, blind rhinoceros.

i wish i could explain it to myself, why i struggle with such desperate, perilous despair.  Even though i have been assured that this is incorrect, even irrational, i perceive myself as particularly week and unadaptable. Would someone else be crumbling like this?  Would their loved ones praise them for having such reasonable mental breakdowns or would they be praised for holding their head up and taking life’s blows on the chin?

i face major life changes, yes. i am falling apart physically, without doubt. That each of those feeds off the other, too, cannot be disputed although an engaging debate like the chicken and the egg could take place. i was already a broken unit before i decided to pursue art with all i had. Then, using all i had, which so clearly wasn’t enough, i wound up becoming more broken. However, i refuse to give myself permission to have myself days like today and yesterday.  i hate myself for falling apart, which does nothing to keep me active and healthy, but instead fills me with shame and graceless resentment.  i draw to stop thinking about my situation, or myself.  Only, even that desperate art reminds me of how futile this situation is: fall is coming, i cannot stop time, and i am dissolving.

As much as i hate to tell you this: i have nothing to give the world today. No strength, no inspiration. Indeed, i think with this blog, i will have used up my full allotment of words for the day.  Once more, i will use all that i have to make useless art – hoping beyond hope, this madness that drives my heartbeat, that somewhere in word or line, i will find that one thing that can save me.

asha fatigue

Depression has dogged me since i was in the single digits.  Sadly, it has not stopped squatting in my psyche despite learning a lot of ways to use it, distract it and endure it.  One therapist suggested it wasn’t so much clinical depression as situational, but in the end, something happens to brain chemistry.  The depression becomes huge and impassive and unconquerable, unable to be unseated by anyone or anything, and it brings along its gang of friends – insecurity, indecision and isolation.

The last one really wipes the floor with me, in part because of “asha fatigue.” i used to work to convince myself that asha fatigue was a form of paranoia, that either people weren’t actually avoiding me or i hemorrhaged enough pain that the sound of people walking away made sense to me. Didn’t someone tell me that nothing is ever about me?  Also, i seek out quiet when i suffer, trained long and hard that no one else will want to lick my wounds.

And yet, with this bout of difficulty, i have had people admit they are avoiding me.  asha fatigue, it seems, is real.

My despair can be overwhelming, unpleasant, even when i am trying to hide it.  A sense of impotency comes over one confessor, and another just wants to shake me and make me realize how this is all my fault so i need to buck up and stop being morose. Another said that watching the endless stream of cosmic poo befalling me lately, whether self caused or not, made her uncomfortable.  From afar, another says this is all for the good and i will be free from a cursed situation and my own failures.

i hear them speak, voices rich in concern and the tones of friendship, and i watch as their words form a cudgel for isolation to wield.

If you ask me what i want, i suppose, i would love people to realize that though my dreams are lost, i tried with all my might.  And, it would be nice to feel like i am not alone in the world.  However, i admit that emotion is a lie – i am the Pluto or Neptune to a lot of people’s Suns – but i am still functionally on my own.

Plus, i really get it.  i am experiencing pretty intense asha fatigue right now myself.  i would give a small fortune (if i had it) to be out of the stress and despair and loss which imbues my days.  i would wave a magic wand and change who i am.  But instead, i am stuck here thinking about the people i love who have died, the bloody and broken shards of my heart all around me, the struggles ahead of me, and the absolute bleakness coating my vision.

 

**UPDATE**IMG_1919

i have spoken to a few people who suffer from depression since publishing this blog, both on the phone and in person, as well as a couple who don’t have classic depression but have gone through really shitty things.  And they insist it is not actually an asha-specific phenomenon.  It’s simply “depression fatigue” or “suffering fatigue.”  Does it make me a bad person to take some encouragement from that?

addiction to art’s flow

IMG_1554Over the years, i have known too many people who struggled with addictions to things like cigarettes or shopping or sex or alcohol or drugs, or some combination of the above.  Watching their struggles, i felt this immense gratitude (along with waves of compassion) that i had not fallen down the same path.

Only, recently, i have realized that i did not escape the gene or the effects of environment that can foster addiction.  In a very real sense, i developed an one of my own – to getting lost in the flow of art.  When i make art, everything else disappears; my entire being seems to dissolve in the way the clay, paint, ink or story moves.  i crave this.  i demand it.  i seek it out, even if i am scribbling on a napkin.  Indeed, i will continue chasing after art even when every speck of evidence tells the sane rational people around me that this is a foolish, self-destructive path.

For the past several weeks, I have been trying very hard to redirect a portion of my effort and energy into finding more freelancing jobs, exploring other options for employment that can coexist beside my current business and obligations. Indeed, i am even preparing myself for the very real possibility that art must be put on hold for awhile, so that i can keep a roof over my head and food in my animals’ bellies. In addition IMG_1545to seeking non-art solutions, i took an amazing small business class to see how to better move through the troubling arena of selling art.  i am doing all i can to put myself in a better position.

i acknowledge that all these chores are necessary things, and good places to put my energy.  After all, financially at the very least, something has to shift quickly.   However, there is a drawback. i do this knowing that the energy to which my body has access is limited. Therefore, devoting a large portion of my effort into these areas has meant that other responsibilities and joys suffered. My dog is shamefully lacking time at the beach to romp and roam.  Except for meditation, my self-care has flown out the window.  The stress is wearing on me; i am letting everyone down while i scramble for better paying jobs and new galleries to sell my art.

As i fill out applications and take tests on my competency in different subjects (discovering that i am happily quiet competent at many tasks), i have been doing the same thing i did during graduate school and undergraduate and nearly every traditional job i have ever held: i am leaking poems and art like blood dripping from my hands.

The more i try to focus on other things, the more the art surfaces. If i swear off art even for a short period, my entire being destabilizes IMG_1547and creativity bleeds into inappropriate places and spaces.  Dialogue for plays murmurs from my lips while i am in the shower. Poetry finds itself scribbled in the margins of notes i take, just like in college.  Drawings swim around in my mind until i have to draw them – not just once, but twice or three times – in order to expunge the image.  Stories that were put aside earlier due to lack of time haunt both my waking and dreaming mind; characters shake me and demand their due.

For six days, an intense, nauseating migraine has been wreaking havoc with my brain, eyes, thoughts and coordination.  My  memory is off; my attention span, worse.  Writing, like i am doing right now, actually hurts as much from the effort of putting one letter after another as from trying to focus through enough visual distortion to make the IMG_1556whole world brighter than a sparkly Twilight vampire.  The one thing that has soothed is art: the flow of ink, experimenting with watercolor, the comfort of line and form.

Even when i am at my worst, i bleed art. If i try to pretend i am a normal person, like the adult that i imagine everyone else to be, then the bleeding becomes a hemorrhage. The compulsion to make it grows irresistible.  It wails within me, disconsolate and brutal, until i give in.  So, i feed the addiction, no longer caring if i am forgetting other things, neglecting important obligations or crumbling into dissolution.  Inside the flow of creating, nothing matters but what pours through me.

And, for that, i thank the entirety of this super-sparkly Creation, every moment, including those dripping with pain.  There are worse fates than being a hopeless artist.  This strange little addiction feeds my soul; it helps to pull me back from despair; it fuels the rest of the struggle to move through this life.

the floor

All day, i have yearned for the clarity of a thin ribbon of ink – the desperate purity of art to come and wash away my doubts.  i wanted to work on a story, one that explores the depths of our human ability to survive when the rug has been pulled out from under us.  However, neither were in the cards for me today. This is the fourth day of a migraine.  Quickly, the rest of my life conspired against my artful urges. Instead of throwing or painting, i have taken tests and done busy work and had my heart broken.  Over the course of a few hours, i found myself accomplishing much, demonstrating my limits and failings again, and landing once more on something solid and firm within my depths.  This strength always shocks me.  Usually, i see my spirit as having no floor, that i could collapse down into the void, frictionless falling that would never cease.  Yet, every once in awhile, something happens so grievous to my soul that this miraculous floor appears.  It keeps me from falling into complete devastation.  It gives me a chance to rest, to catch my breath and to think about how to climb out of the pit. Yesterday, this strength was not there – or rather, i did not know it was here.  Today, it is keeping me aloft as beautifully as any drawing or painting or story or poem.

Hopefully, as i gallery sit tomorrow, i will find my way to more words and ink.  But, for now, i will be going taking this strange, solid stillness and letting it coax me into dreams, into sleep, and perhaps tomorrow, if i remain seated on this foundation, i can build myself a way out.

twenty minutes

raining i just used up all the hot water in the tank doing the dishes and it will take twenty minutes to get some warmth back.  The limitations of my hot-water heater has given me a chance to blog.

Part of the reason that the dishes had stacked up for so long was that my injured hand could not hold the dishes well or without significant pain.  The other reason is that when confronted by the desire to make art and the need to do dishes, the former almost always wins.  At any rate, while i cleaned plate after plate, rejoicing over my left hand’s healing, i started mulling over the other things i have not been doing as i should: blogging, posting on social media, just generally reaching out even to my customers.

Part of it has been a conscious choice as to what kind of art i should make. i am aware that what is welling up inside me contains sorrow and fear.  The decision is whether or not to give those emotions a stronger voice.

Years and years ago, a friend typed in a lot of poetry for me when i was having health issues that made the job impossible.  Those poems contained vast despair, interspersed with moments of bliss.  Watching how she reacted to that collection silenced my pen for a bit, even though she kept thanking me for the rare poems of joy.  Then, a couple of years ago, someone blue hairwas looking at thespirit_goddess paintings to the left and shook his head, saying no one wants to see pain.  By that time, my art had already shifted toward things like the holy spirit to the right.  Despite whatever internal grief i suffered, my art channeled happiness.  So i smiled at my friend’s advice,  because, somehow, i had already taken it.

That is, until this winter.  i cannot count the times i stopped my hands from drawing or painting or sculpting because i sorrowknew the things rumbling about in my mind would produce art like that to the left which flooded out of me six years ago.   Art can be a purging – an exorcism of grief and sorrow.  This helped heal my soul all those years ago.

If i want to be honest about my experience of life, there will always be a bit of art that will evokes the darkness.  Sometimes, even when i give myself leave to create something just for the sake of my sanity, the joy still peaks out.  A drawing of howling despair turns into song. There will also always be joy – peeking through even during the hardest times.

This is not one of the hardest time.  i know that, deep in my soul.  i can go back to poems written years ago and realize how much sunlight has conquered the sorrow.  An indefinable, unconquerable strength has kept me going this winter and for that spark of grace i am wildly grateful.  May it continue to keep me slogging through.

However, i have made a choice, for myself alone.  i don’t think i am going to quiet the art that would come forth, even when i know it might be soaked in blues.  The cost of keeping it bottled up is too high – for it stifles what other art that would come.

 

joy in art

10483983_295400057311713_1087486501397953590_nLast night, I had a list of things I needed to do.  One client needs her newest media added to her website, another needs me to finish researching, a third really needs me to do a couple of flyers and to update her website.  For myself, I need to finish the most depressing cash flow analysis in the history of time, every number of which generates another wave of hopelessness, make a list of what emergency things I need for my art to stay in business, and I have the book I just finished that needs editing.  Not to mention, this blogging and the other writing I’m working on have been impatiently waiting for their due time.

And, I should mention, I am exhausted beyond all measure.  The pain and disability that overtook me this summer has not loosened its grip one iota.  Each time I stand it feels like someone poured lava down my legs.  Some days I feel like I still have my mind, others I languidly wonder if my brains have been replaced by goo.  Too often, I have to use my left hand to pull the pen out of my right, because my muscles clamp down too severely.  Every step, no matter what direction I am going, comes at a great cost.  If I were a car, I would be running on vapors with a loose axle. I would never pass inspection.

This is the lowest I have been since my divorce and the second time in my adult life that everything  that I thought was worthwhile and useful about me has been stripped away.  The thing that got me through the first personal deconstruction was my art. I lost all my stability, I had all the love I had ever known repossessed like a car, I was told unequivocally that nothing I had ever done meant anything.  So much flowed from that loss: story, poetry, painting.  Each of the mediums in which I create took a leap forward, I became a better artist because art was the only thing tethering me to this world.

Perhaps that is why this summer has been so torturous, realizing that as much as it soothes me, as much as it gives me my sanity, what a fundamental part of my being creativity comprises – I lack the basic skills to make my art – or my writing – help feed me.  Or, and this would be so much worse, I am doing everything I should be doing but I lack whatever magic is need to make it work. It’s not like I am asking for the world, either – just enough to pay my bills, feed me and keep making art.  For four years, things were going fairly well, despite major setbacks, I still sold enough art to keep hunger at bay.  This year, though, I cannot give my work away.  Even my time doesn’t seem valuable to my own students, for they no longer want to pay for it.  If I am just ignorant and stupid, then those problems could be fixed.  However, if this is the economy or my art being out of fashion, then there is nothing I can do.  This is like a graduate course in acceptance and surrender.

Since I threw myself into this venture five years ago, I have been visualizing, demanding, pleading, begging the universe and still, here I am drowning in work I find difficult and disharmonious with my basic formatting and the work that gives my life meaning is not saving me.

I have no idea what I should do.  As usual, I want to turn to art, but lack the energy, focus and stamina to do much:  poems, the book on meditation, the pen and inks.  The thought of the wheel makes my heart ache.  Part of me wonders if I should try to give this up – but it is integral to me.  One thing I have learned is that whether or not I am selling my art, the need to create is interwoven into my DNA.  flyingfallingIf I have to, I will be able to give up pottery.  My hands will itch for the clay, but I will survive.  If my brain continues to rot inside my skull, maybe someday I will be forced to give up writing.  But, until then, I know words and images will creep out whenever there is a moment.  On nights like last night, I will forsake all the things I have to do so I can steal time to start drawing and writing.  The picture at the top of this blog came through me last night.  This one a few hours earlier.

Which ends the long preamble for my point.  Yesterday,  I was eating while the picture immediately above was drying, someone came to my studio.  I had thought we knew each other well enought that when she asked how business was, I could answer honestly.  Alas, she refused to hear any of my desperation or concern, she kept shaking her head and talking about how these drawings are so joyous.  At that moment, I had needed someone to hear my worries, so I felt thwarted and invisible, but after she left I looked at the drawings – particularly the one I had just finished.  The joy made me frustrated, it felt at odds with the emotions that no amount of meditation can completely stop from churning.  Later that night, hoping to give voice to how I was feeling, I drew the image that begins the blog.

So, as you can see, it came out joyous.  All of yesterday’s works (that were not garlic related) were drenched in the holy spirit and bliss.  Neither woman is plummeting to her doom, just flying or gently floating.  Gravity still has a hold, but something is keeping them up.  Just going through my instagram feed I saw an insane amount of joy in post after post after post.  During the divorce I painted things like this:

divorce_red

And now, when I’m just as low emotionally and much lower physically, I am drawing things like this:

IMG_3277and sculpting things like this:

IMG_3210and painting like this:

annunciation

Last night, after I drew her flying over that farmland and mountains, I sat there, starting at the art that had just launched out of me, prying the pen out of my claw, wondering what these images – and even the poems – are trying to tell me.

As I staggered off to bed, I realized that in a strange way these works made all the instability, rejection and internal suffering seem irrelevant.  Meditation has been helping me realize that I am separate from the drowning, even as I am gulping down salt-water.  But I had not realized what my art might be telling me.  Could they mean, with or without this studio and this level of creativity, things will be okay?

 

 

 

 

respite

For days, I have been working through overwhelm, worry and heartache the only way I know how – turning to friends for advice and comfort, meditating as much as I can, and surrendering to my body’s demands.

I have slept, rested, prayed and made what art I could.  Some of the art was lovely, some oozed with suffering and unconquerable hopelessness.  I wallowed, for certain, but my misery was interspersed with flashes of resolution and calm.  For the first time, I could celebrate my strength, even as i wept over its cost.  However, in a classic example of cognitive dissonance, I have also been stubbornly refusing to accept defeat, even though logic suggests it has already arrived.1896999_10203583401337128_274120720393616886_n

Will can be an awesome force, challenging the universe to remake itself into the form of a dream.

Last night, I fired a kiln.  This meant I could start my day slightly later – I stayed in bed and bed and retreated into poem and story for the bulk of the morning.  Once the studio reopened, I could retreat from the heat by coming upstairs for more of the same.  I wrote, then I meditated for 36 minutes (keeping track with a meditation timer on my phone that also prevents me from falling into spontaneous napping.)  During those moments the howling of my need quieted to stillness.  I dwelt in a creation nearly devoid of thought – filled only with  sound and sensation.  For the fist time in over a week, my mind and heart found place.

Of course, as soon as I get up from this blessed sanctuary of silent stillness, the world will come rushing back.  My heart will remember its lonely grief.  The monstrous collection of worry and obligation that towers over me will flex its claws and leap, aiming to sink them into my tender flesh again.

It has already tried.

Only, I am still in the embrace of meditation, so for right now, the monster slides frictionless off my awareness, falling into a puddle of unimportance on the floor.

Ask me again in an hour, or in a day, if I have maintained such equanimity.

As delightful as my practice has been, as much as it unlocks joy and love, I remain a frail, failing human.  Even my the creativity that floods out of me cannot protect me from loss and failure and pain.  Despite my growth as a human being, I find myself desiring, grieving and despairing.  Indeed, I have fought ultimate darkness this past week, by doing nothing more than accepting its presence, watching as it made plans and ranted about hopelessness, allowing it to thrash around inside my chest while I waited until faith, love, art, friendship and my innate stubbornness could take over again.

There remain times when I can manage is to not drown in those troubling nightmares for too long.  For this I am grateful.  For this, I meditate and write and pray and hope.

10 August 2014