Monday, June 22, 2009


Among journalists, at least those of a certain era, there is a classic movie or television line that induces weeping. At the last moment, the reporter has tracked down the miscreant politician, the escaped lunatic, the missing mob witness or the kingpin himself. He races to a pay phone, gets hold of someone on the rewrite desk and bellows, "Hold page one. I've got a story that'll bust this town wide open."

In the 1950s my newsman father wrote an episode for a tv detective show with, of course, a newsman as the guest lead. He wrote it true to the daily life of a journalist, he sidestepped cliches and felt he left the audience with both a sense of justice fulfilled and a glimpse into a world usually shown only in charicature. We wait for the reporter's final scene, only to see him grab the phone and begin to demand, "Kill page one..." Rewrite in the wrong hands is perilous business.

Which is a very long way around to say my page one for today reads: Guess what? You're human; you backslide. We also simply have days when the cosmos or magnetism, brain chemistry or bad dreams push us back to a starting square in the eternal match of Chutes and Ladders. For moments, if we're lucky, or hours if we are less so, we are captives in the one-person multiplex auditorium where the only feature is Your Shortcomings: the Slide Show.

Fortune brought me an early morning phone call from a woman I must call a sista for all the parallels in our lives, and she managed to make dreams of escape and spiritual ascension, with everything moving like a Max Fleischer cartoon, seem less peculiar. She also spoke of a subject we've covered many times (which I've probably covered many times here, too, but it keeps coming up) - that we are here to be witnesses to each others' stories, to each others' losses and grief, trauma and through that witnessing possibly allow some clarity of vision, some acceptance, the simple relief of being heard and believed.

Once I could acknowledge and embrace (sometimes tentatively, little fingertips on shoulder blades) that intuition was a basic part of who I am, I began to act and speak from experiences of that intuition. Not always, but sometimes. It isn't psychic...I have no idea how that works and am very glad that it wasn't dropped in my bag of tricks. Often there are intuitive components to dreams and if there is a name, I have called the person in the morning and almost every time have found there was a reason for us to speak, even though neither one of us could imagine what it was as the conversation began. Words will jump like PopTarts in the middle of a phone call or some non-sequitur question will draw forth thoughts previously unexplored. As an assignment, which it seems to be, it is not awful and the feeling of assisting in someone's process makes the unscheduled slide shows feel less shaming.

One of the basic requirements of the job is letting go of the outcome, not being attached to whether or not any action is taken or insight claimed as a result of shared information. And this can lead to feeling like a nitwit, a sorry and seldom-mentioned by-product of listening to intuition. The filters which come with particular kinds of knowing are not always operational or their caution is just shouted down. If you watched the sadly cancelled show REAPER, as Sam tried to meet his quota of demons to be returned to hell, there were miscalculations. So it is with any assignment.

But don't gifts come with risks? Painters, directors, musicians, any who are guided to move in a new direction take the chance of rejection. I am connected to a world of artists, writers, creators, many of whom I believe operate on intuition only. None of the people with whom I exchange words is able to guess what will sell, what will be the next thing; we follow, to the best of our ability, the carnival music which reaches us with promises of sights unseen, the lure of a big prize at the ring toss, for me the celluloid kewpie on a bamboo stick, feather and glitter headdress, koochie costume, jointed fragile arms. We get the call and we feel we must go. To felting, baking, painting, collage, ceramics, blogging, street performance, singing or passing along the information from dreams. If the wires have frayed and the message is misconstrued, has so very much been lost? Somewhere there must be a list of great discoveries that happened by mistake. I learned some time ago that I will survive being wrong, appearing foolish, experiencing rejection. So there are moments of backsliding, self-criticism, "this can't be my life" thoughts as the roller coaster takes a particularly jolting turn. Put page one to bed; there are no seismic headlines tonight.


Anonymous said...

Good Heavens.
There is a writer gliding quietly amongst us, brave enough to pull out the script (" we have time for a parchment???") and just lay it down.

Visionaries have to be brave, very, very Brave.

Jen said...

Yes! to living with intuition.
Yes! Yes! to acting on it. Embarrassment is for the under twenty set. Too much might be lost by NOT heeding the call.

And oh! a flash ... celluloid not kewpie doll but monkey with feathery soft black and white "fur" on a purple bamboo cane!

Marylinn Kelly said...

As the week rolled on, the words of others have been recorded (on parchment) and it seems that allowing intuition to take the wheel has many advocates. One of Edward Gorey's illustrations, turned into a postcard, said, "I have no idea, not a clue, why I am sending this to you." Maybe just a clue...