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Entries in fear (11)

Wednesday
May152013

Fear, Invitations, and a Little Film

This is what summer on Jen's block looks like.

The truth is, I am terrified to create.  Also I'm terrified not to. 

In the tension between these two things lives a little voice that says it would be so much easier if someone would just ask me to make something.  I know that art springs from a place of granting yourself permission, or maybe of a compulsion too strong to resist.  But there's still a part of me too timid to claim this for myself.

A year ago, Jen Lemen said, come here for a weekend and let's make some art.

And as I was boarding the plane I thought well, I couldn't ask for a more direct invitation than that.

I landed in the midst of a whirlwind of emotion and I watched through my camera, wondering if it was rude, or voyeuristic, or crazy, to record this stuff.  I decided to sit in the discomfort, and also in the love, just witnessing it.  I thought maybe the camera could hold space for all of us to process our own moment.  Mostly I wanted to be part of creating something that was both beautiful and true.  I hope we did that.

Today over at Hopeful World, Jen is releasing our little project to the light.  I am so grateful for the invitation to create with Jen and for the nights that I sat side-by-side with my friend Dustin editing. Let's make more things that are beautiful and true.

Wednesday
Dec122012

Where I've Been

There are days when I look and everything around me seems so fragile.  The dried veins of fallen leaves browning, crackling under my feet.  Everything changing rapidly and not for the easier.  This is the season, it seems, of white knuckling and holding on tight and praying please please please let me get through this one alright.  With any shred of grace, dear Universe, please and thank you please and thank you please and thank you.

Work is consuming in a way that is as predictable as the calendar, and yet here I am wondering how I will make it through and if past success is any guarantee of future performance.  Some of my most sacred relationships seem on the brink of disintegrating like the autumn leaves and I don't know how to stay present to that when running away or lashing out seem more satisfying.  This season of thanksgiving and richness leaves me feeling scared and humbled.

I have been gone from here partly because time has been scarce and partly because I couldn't think of anything nice, or at least well-put, to say.  This is a loss for me, this space sitting dormant, and more broadly the connections I share here and the satisfaction of putting words together in a way that pleases me.  I trust the path to my computer and this place will open again and I will find my way back.

In the meantime I give myself one gift, even though it doesn't always feel like one: I'm back to a picture a day.  I promised myself that I wouldn't put pressure to blog it, so you can find it here if you're so inclined.  In this season of scarce light and attention I try not to get hung up on the questions that plague me, like what do I shoot? and is that good enough? and can't you think of anything besides Ezra to take a picture of?  I hope that when this time of scarcity and transition passes I'll have more space to address these questions.  In the meantime, I shoot, and not always artfully.  But I know that owning this practice will ultimately help me move through this hard part.  If there is to be a shred of grace on the other side of this, I know the practice is what will help me maintain contact.

Wednesday
Sep262012

Blessingway

You came in on the wind. 

Crested the mountain ridge, danced over meadow grasses, and through the open door.

Kissed me on the nape of the neck and whispered, don't be afraid.

You have beautiful friends, already.  They are adorned with feathers and beads and scarves and love shines in their eyes.  I think you've been talking to them too.

You have a beautiful home, situated perfectly to watch the sun transit the sky from wherever you lay.  It's quiet up there and there's a long view and you can breathe.

Your parents glow like the blessed, and wait intently for you to show them the way.

Already you call us into deeper levels of connection and commitment, the warp and weft of tribe.  Already you are a weaver.

When you are ready, we are ready.

Safe passage, sweet girl.

Thursday
Sep132012

A Truce

At some point, you just get tired of being your own worst enemy and you lay down your arms.

I wonder why so much of my territory is preoccupied with guilt or shame.  Envy.  Fear.  Internal insurgents lob highly sophisticated rockets of self-criticism, as though let-me-think-of-all-my-shortcomings-before-you-do creates a kind of missile defense against the outside world.  It shields me every night while I lay down with the enemy.

It's time to surrender.

Not the white-flag, but the olive branch.  A treaty of delirious possibility.  The conditions of the agreement are non-technical and involve things like vegetables, sleep, blank paper, yellow running shoes, tenderness.  In order to embrace an imperfect union I will stop building settlements in unfriendly outposts.  I will start again, with friendship, acceptance, and love.

Let no one think that the birth of man is to be felt without terror.  The transformations that await us cost everything in the way of courage and sacrifice.  Let no one be deluded that knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other. Centering is a severe and thrilling discipline, often acutely unpleasant. In my own efforts, I become weak, discouraged, exhausted, angry, frustrated, unhappy, and confused.  But someone within me is resolute, and I try again.  Within us lives a merciful being who helps us to our feet however many times we fail.

- M.C. Richards

Tuesday
Jun192012

Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge

The rattlesnake stirs at my house around 7:00am these days.  Well he is Ezra when he wakes up, sprawled naked across his bed (our recent hot snap having turned pajamas into a corporal punishment analog), but shortly afterward he declares in a small voice I'm a rattlesnake and sheds the first person for the rest of the morning. 

From there on out it's all

the rattlesnake is cold

or

the rattlesnake wants mango

and in fidelity to his character he slithers around on his naked belly (while I cringe at the prospect of the splinters he could pick up from our century-old hardwood floors) and insists on a straw in his morning smoothie since rattlesnakes don't have hands to hold a cup.  The rattlesnake's logic is unassailable. 

Today he broke out of his snake physicality only long enough to hold the rattlesnake's favorite artifact, a wooden apple.  It's getting positively biblical around here in the mornings.

---

I'm not sure I've quite deciphered the rattlesnake's appearance in our family ecology, but he tends to emerge on hard mornings and his timid little third person voice makes me wonder if he turns up when Ezra feels particularly vulnerable. 

When Will and Ezra dropped me at the airport last week Will asked Ez Are you sad because Mama left? and Ezra replied No, I'm happy because I'm a rattlesnake.

Maybe the serpent in my garden knows something I don't about deflecting fear and doubt.

---

I thought if lots of people told me I am awesome I would start to believe it.

Apparently it doesn't work that way.

(I mean, it's nice to hear, so you should tell someone they're awesome if you think that's true, but it's not the kind of thing that's easy to internalize.  Or at least not for me anyway.)

I think what works is doing lots of work, lots of writing, lots of making pictures, lots of tinkering to develop a style.  So this is me, back to the drawing board, trying to hitchhike out of Kansas.  I'm going to pick up a fierce power animal along the way too, just in case I need to slip her on to deflect the scariest stuff.