Monday, August 16, 2010

Note to self

"All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it."
-Samuel Butler.

Luckily for me, there is no rigid screening process for membership in the Organization of Sentient Beings. My ferry schedule must be out of date, because I come awfully close to missing the boat - repeatedly.

Beliefs - our personal mythology, our more than twice-told stories - can act as the curse spoken over the baby just before the castle and all within it fall into coma-like slumber. Whatever the planets are up to, their influence has someone touching live wires to parts of my brain while an Observer stands by and remarks, "That's not true. Where did you come up with that?"

Item one: how many times have I written or said that I just write; I don't know where it's going, I just show up and do it. False. I DO know. My writing carries me from this place into another, as the words pile up my work becomes more, bigger. Where it is going is forward. That forward may not have a name or form is not the same as standing still. I do know.

Item two: because of current or historic events that might be seen as setbacks, I often tell myself that life is hard, as though that limp and watery classification lets me be as half-assed as I want. False. I have not broken down at some menacing desert way-station; the necessary replacement part will not take 6 weeks to arrive; I am not without resources and, in many ways, abundance. The grocery stores have been selling blueberries for (almost) pennies for the past several weeks. Blueberries may be one of the signs of advanced civilization; they are surely not a sign of the apocalypse. No trust fund? Que lastima.

Item three: I see Iraqi war amputees climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and feel like a whiner and a wimp. I see the armless teenager who paints, applies eye makeup without smudges, drives a car and flies an airplane. I am usually the first to scream that comparisons are odious - or odorous - but please. At what point did I make the choice to sit out the rest of my life because getting around is not the easy waltz it used to be.

Item four: there is an emphatic part of me that really believes impossible things can happen. I have had them happen to me. Call them miracles, blessings, call them impossible things; the last-minute reprieve has saved us more times than I can count. That is enough to hold onto; empirical evidence is sufficient in this case.

Item five: I have not been drawing and have written less often than I intend. The only thing keeping me from these joys is me and too many lunches from the apathy cafe. My time here is finite; is this the best I can do? Does this make me happy?

As other faulty beliefs come to me, I may list them here, if only to bring them into the light and let them slither off to another shadowy grotto. This could be labeled Noticing Out Loud, I suppose, but unlike writing the thoughts in the air with the licked tip of a finger, at least for the moment they have shape here. After the blogger lost comments fiasco, who knows. I may have choked on self-absorption long before a follow-up entry can be pasted together.

Several weeks ago I learned that artist-teacher-author Carla Sonheim was giving copies of her new book, Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists , to some of the illustrators who contributed to the work, so that they could hold drawings on their blogs. I was one of the fortunate drawees and my copy arrived today. One of the first pages I turned to was about creating paper dolls. The exercise speaks to me, not only because she uses cereal box cardboard as the background. The page also includes a quote from Carl Jung, "What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Here is the key to your earthly pursuits."

What I did was read, daydream, dance, sing, cook, do my best and believe. Later I wrote. Earthly pursuits. My keys.

15 comments:

grrl + dog said...

I begged Carla to write the tutorial for those dolls, and did spend many happy hours making them.
Glad the art angels came to see you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - Wise suggestion (or begging). Yes, I am a happy, fortunate gray-haired girl.

Tess said...

OK, I've been offline for a bit...the heat has been awful...the computer is acting up...my job suckeths (Is that a word?) at times...I am rapidly approaching a swap deadline...I'm feeling writers block... and then I read this! Wow, you made a lot of sense here. Thanks for the gentle knock on the head/wake up call! Now that I think about it, things are looking pretty good. :)

RachelVB said...

My Grandfather says those who stay still and never explore never change. Our evolution is not slow - not like some parts of nature. We can adapt in a day whereas plants and animals and rock can take hundreds of years.
I hope to never let go of the girl I was. Not in this lifetime anyway.
I'm glad you found your keys. keys help you get in to things.

Sherry O'Keefe said...

"i am not without resources" (item two).

i try to repeat this to myself frequently. your post has reminded me i had stopped believing in that. time for me to repeat after you, "i am not without resources. . ."

Erin in Morro Bay said...

The trouble with The Apathy Cafe is that the menu never changes and nothing tastes very good! But I hear what you're saying - I complain about it being foggy while others are suffering temps and humidity in the 100's. The secret of life - know how to be happy with what you have.
Erin

Laoch of Chicago said...

Very nice

Robert the Skeptic said...

I believe it is true the self-assessment is difficult at best, perhaps impossible. We cannot help but look at ourselves through internal bias' and colored glasses. This is why it is so vital to have intimate partners and friends who can reflect back to us what THEY see and give us a different perspective.

And it is true that all things are relative. My buddy has his own airplane, which I would love. But my wife points out that when you envy the life of someone else, you have to picture taking on ALL aspects of their life as well. I see his failing marriage and an airplane seems like a trivial desire.

When things seem to be going wrong I like to tell myself that if Paris Hilton's chauffeur arrives late, she probably thinks her life is ruined.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Tess - Welcome back...I hope things that sucketh or fail to comply can be righted...and that bright spots appear more than not.

Rachel - No, I suppose our evolution is not slow...just knowing, roughly, the outside limits of our time here, being able to GET it sooner rather than later has its advantages. I was glad to be reminded how that girl endures.

Sherry - Exactly, Note To Self: I am not without resources. Knowing, remembering, embracing the good...how does that wander so far from our consciousness?

Erin - Eww, no...the apathy cafe is strictly default...too apathetic to find something better. No seagull ever carried off a plate from there. If this was easy, everyone would do it.

Laoch - Thank you so much.

Robert - Paris and her unfortunate circumstances had me laughing out loud. Varying definitions of a bad day. And the presence of trusted others is what allows us to try and work with our intermittently accurate compasses, knowing we will not go too far off course for too long. Stuff can come with too high a price.

Claire Beynon said...

Dear Marylinn
There's so much here. Thank you.
Sometimes we have to forget in order to remember, to lose our way before we find it, to misplace our keys so that we can find them again or climb through that just-noticed new/old window?
You are a font of riches.
Love, Claire.

Kass said...

It's delicious to get to a certain age and realize that the maxims we have lived by are fodder for the animal that wants to live wild and openly.

Great post.

Maggie said...

You have given me much to consider.

I am particularly struck by the Jung question. I am sure it has nothing to do with my day job!

What did I do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?

Unfortunately, most days seeemed so long, worrying about my mother and father. My father in Viet Nam, my mother--well, who knows where she was some nights--working or somewhere else. And even when she was home, she wasn't there. I spent many days worrying.

Or wanting to be like my older brother. Wanting to hang with the boys. Make the machine gun sound they could make as they played combat.

Or waiting for the back door to open so we could come inside for a little while. Kool Aid and a sandwich or something.

Or riding my bike (and usually getting hurt, which created all sorts of drama!).

Or chasing the mosquito man truck with the rest of the neighborhood kids (I can only guess what all those chemicals have done to me!).

I read, but not much. Could not focus. Always the worry. Did not start reading in earnest until high school.

Much to think about from this post. Interesting. Shall visit you again, methinks!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Claire - Thank you...a font of riches? If only...truly, I so appreciate that. We aspire. I think it is possible to brainwash ourselves, given examples and experiences to set the tone, then we just pick it up and go from there, life built on faulty premises. It just seemed not to be working all that well. I trust we will continue to seek. xo

Kass - Thank you...live wild and openly, what a notion. At the very least, live less constrictedly; see ourselves (or myself) in the light of greater possibility or even, dare I dream?, probability.

Maggie - Yes, please visit again. I hope there will be something worth pondering. Such worry for a child would eclipse carefree moments; I can't say that I know that burdensome worry from childhood but found it as a young adult, that and fear. As I responded to the Jung quote, I did so with memories of ideal moments. They may have been far apart, but I believe they are the pieces which, when stitched together, would give me a direction, an assignment. At least I thought it worth considering.

Some of the beliefs of which I wish to rid myself come from childhood, the result either of my misinterpretations or messages I actually received. I just know they no longer serve me and I want to trade them in for something that will assist me in feeling more okay...successful would be good but acceptable might be enough. Anyone who says any of this is easy is lying. Take care.

Lisa H said...

I've printed this out and tacked it (okay, taped it) to my forehead.
Now I may go to Kinko's and have it blown up so that I can paste it on the walls of my bedroom. This may be my new Holy Grail. Do you think that I could have it tattooed onto my back backwards so that it reads correctly in the mirror?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - I'm sure our marketing department can assist with any request you may have. Heh heh...but if you have it written backward, and you have to look into a mirror to look over your shoulder, to see the image in the mirror...oh, I become so easily confused.

Thank you. I'm waiting to post the image of an enormous, cosmic explosion for the entry when I think of other wrong-headed notions I want to jettison.