Thursday, April 1, 2010

Just love it

A friend of mine tells the definitive story of how what we want to see occludes our vision for what is. She and her husband were looking for purebred boxers and located a seller with two young dogs for sale. They did not resemble the boxers they had owned previously, yet the seller swore they were that breed. Driving home with the alleged boxers in the car, my friend was thinking, "We have our boxers," yet feeling that something was out of kilter. When they arrived home, they looked closely at the not-even-purebred dogs of indeterminate origin and had to acknowledge they had talked themselves into something from the sheer wanting of it to be true and these were not, never had been, never would be, boxers. "These dogs are not boxers," has become a phrase she uses when speaking of any situation in which we try and convince ourselves that...this is it.

Conversely, I am too well acquainted with how easily we can reject the real thing when it doesn't match some arbitrary notion of how, for example, a piece of art or writing ought to be. This falls under the heading of Nothing in Life Is One Size Fits All in my yet-unwritten manifesto. If I had kept track of how many years I spent comparing (underlined, caps, bold face...remember this word) the visual interpretation of my spirit with that of other illustrators, essayists, and so on, I would wander the streets draped in mourning for so much lost time, for gifts unappreciated.

How long until we understand that whatever our form of expression (this assuming that it doesn't cause harm anywhere), it is authentic and it absolutely is our gift. Would you dream of rejecting a child's handmade card, pillow, giant mailing-tube candy cane or cotton-ball tufted Santa face for its lack of sophistication? I have the memory of a pair of yellow and green earrings - could they have been made of seeds? - going right into the dresser drawer, never to be worn, never even taken out of the box, because they were not lovely enough. Since that is a fourth-grade memory and it lingers still, I present it as a cautionary tale. I will not elaborate on the first-grade clay Christmas tree whose tilt gave the impression, in brown and orange, of dancing, of happy motion. Did it sway to its own music on the top shelf in the kitchen cupboard decade after decade? At least it wasn't thrown away, yet it never got to come to the party.

Because my desire to produce a longer work brought me nothing but frustration, I gave in one day and let my shorter pieces speak for me. Trying to make myself into the boxer of my own creative process gave me cringe-worthy chapters of semi-fiction that went nowhere and said nothing. Because what escapes from any pen in my hand is somewhat silly, often cheerful and occasionally lumpy, askew and peculiar, I realized I was dragging myself back to junior high and looking at myself through the adolescent prism which emphasized how much I didn't match anything or anyone around me. Then it seemed to matter, at least somewhat. Fortunately, it didn't matter enough to go all psycho over never having owned a Lanz dress, having hair that only now - thanks for nothing, dwindling hormones - has quadrants completely free of curl and white bucks (it was the 50s, give me a break) that were never white enough, despite the powder-puff chalky pillow that I carried in my felt clutch purse in the hope of dusting them into a state other than scuffed and faintly gray.

Do not suppose it escapes my notice that outsiderdom is a recurring topic in these posts. Nor will I apologize for restating the belief that, if we are permitting ourselves to appear in the earthly regions in our true forms, we will always be one-of-a-kind. During the lengthy silent moments of my days, I feel guided to say a frequent "thank you," then sit down and be happy with my equivalent of the package of assorted Life Saver rolls which was the gift I brought to the 6th grade Christmas exchange. Unlike Loren (you know who you are), I would not sell them to my classmates while exhibiting facial disappointment and speaking of them in unwelcoming language.

Here is what I think, based on thoroughly unscientific observation and conclusion: we will never be satisfied with what we may one day produce if we are not happy with the light that flows through us today. For it is indeed light, pure and golden, and to reject or disparage it is to tell the universe that it has done a sub-par job. Do you really want to relay THAT message to all that is, to our source, by whatever name you choose to call it? I think of a long-ago Shel Silverstein book called, in my memory, "Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book." In it was cyclops, probably for the letter "C" and Uncle Shelby suggested that you, child reading the book, go and poke him in the eye. As Uncle Shelby said, "I'll wait here for you." Before something goes tragically wrong, take the gift, love it, wear it, coo and swoon over it. Feed it bits of carmelized popcorn, caress its funny, pointy head, give it a home and love it. As my brother once said, love it " the pain of being alive." Love it.


Erin in Morro Bay said...

I had to laugh at the boxer tale. Margot and I went to the shelter 6 years ago to pick out a ginger kitten and somehow came home with a dilute tortoiseshell one. I insist, to this day, that she's ginger!

Donna B. said...

Oh always puts words down so deliciously...I LOVE reading your posts. I too loved the boxer tale...I trust I will not put my rose colored glasses on and not see anything other than what is before me... yet, I can soooooooo relate!