this past Saturday began my artist residency in motherhood. I marked it on my calendar months ago. the week before I printed out some materials about the new year--making goals, changing my life, etc and the artist residency stuff. of course, it sat like a lump of coal on my desk until I moved it somewhere else.
then Saturday came and all of a sudden I was thinking about making space for my creative practice and what that meant in practical terms.
for me that meant getting out the whole studio persona thing. yes, I have a studio space but it mostly sits empty during the day and night.
then I started obsessing with finding a desk or table to go in our teeny living room to do art on. for the record, our house was built in the 1970s. it is not an open concept floor plan but the kitchen is open. so I decided make the most of this. I put a basket with art supplies downstairs for the toddler(watercolors, crayons, brushes and paper) and I tote my art supplies back and forth from my studio or bedroom to the kitchen table. it works.
I say this because with a schedule, without a magical potion or word I am living my life. I make it to the table and I create. sometimes it's the worst stuff in America (or so it feels) and sometimes it's something that makes my heart sing.
there is not fanfare for revolutions. not even the ones in yourself. a revolution can be hard or it can be as gentle as making space for yourself to arrive with your non professional art supplies and open heart.
we have to figure out a way or ways to do the things that matter. that make a difference. no matter what and even if we are uncertain.
with a world that is howling with pain and grief(always) and lives that are so unpredictable and fragile (always), I know that I can keep trying to fit myself into what I am suppose to be doing. I could suffocate in a box of coolness and might but what life would I be living?
I think the bravest things we can do in a world full tyranny and aggression is show-up. not with a cloak and dagger but with our tools and gifts. showing-up not as parade element but as the change and medicine we hope to give the world.
we can and must resist hate mongering and fear-based living with each breathe. we must continue to challenge hate in others and ourselves, even when it hurts, especially when it hurts and ask us to look at our place in the web of privilege and disadvantage and act bigger than we feel.
I find myself this year without resolutions or words or anything to anchor me but the intention of showing up and making art (whatever that looks like on any given day) and not adding to the aggression and hate on this planet. the last one is the hardest challenge of a lifetime. already, I have failed a million times, but each failure draws me closer to the bedrock. each personal disappointment gives me a chance to expand my heart.
for over 70 days, I have been meditating. I don't say this to toot my own horn because meditation is hard for me. some of these days, I have ridiculously sick, sad, and torn apart and meditating did not change that. Not that day. maybe not even this day but I showed up. I show up. I show up because I want to see this world, in all her beauty and horror. I want to write and make art and live my life like I give a d*mn because I do. I don't know anyway to do those things but to show up and sit with what is.
I could never give the world words and beauty that I am not willing to pluck for my own self and see with my own soul. I can never talk about being authentic and loving (without feeling fake and phony) without trying to walk that walk myself. I can have the best looking studio in the world but, if it's unused then what is the point?
I keep making art and writing words( which is an art form, too) and trying to figure out how to love people in real and tangible ways (which is art, too) because it's all apart of the walk of living a creative life. it's all apart of living it out.
you can't schedule it.
though we try so hard.
however, you can give it space to become and flow
listen yourself harder than the others.
you can't make yourself feel what you don't.
although, it can be easy to fake it, if you try.
you can't give what you don't have inside of yourself to give.
even when the world claims you could and should.
you can hustle and run with the wind.
and you might for days or years
because you need the food and the motion.
but one day you might
and lay on your mother's dirty lap and taste her milk in your ears.
you might sit on a bathroom floor in despair
or crumble to your knees in joy.
one day your need for your own story will rise.
the need to see a world that is full of what is and more
will tear your shirt wide-open
and you will fall from your
and become one
with the grass and the grain.
if you want a world burning of love and goodness.
a world aching with creation and communion
beyond and amongst the ruins and the pains
you have to be part the catalyst.
you have to knead and eat the bread you want to rise.
and by you, I mean me.
the only way forward is to begin.
that's when the art comes.
that when the words rise up.
we have stories to tell.
we don't have to perfect to tell them or create.
we don't have to make our tools from stone and wood
or hinge our souls on stories that don't belong to us
but to share them (these stories) without expectation, baggage and fear
we have to allow ourselves to unfurl.
to become acts of revolution
we are here to be here.
as we are.
where we are.
there is nothing that make us more worthy on any given day.
no outfit or skin hue that makes one shine brighter to heaven than another.
our hearts are where every revolutionary act starts.
and our pen, our canvas, our cookies....
our very lives
is how we live it out.
every act of aggression, indifference and hate that tries to tear us to shreds and make us regret our resolve
we must see it. we must feel it with a part of our bones but not give ourselves to it.
every act of love, joy and beauty making. we must see it. we must feel it with all our soul
and embrace it without claiming or cleaving it to the forever's box.
we won't get it right.
I say. I fail a million times a day.
like a blinking eye trying not to move. I move.
the mud claims me.
but there i find myself
in my mother's arm.
her wooly tongue licking my wounds and failures.
her hands sharpen by life and the hunt
caressing my soul.
you always carry me on a bed of stars through the darkness
and picks the sun's rays for my nose to smell to sing of your brightness.
you know my heart like your own but different.
your only wish is that i try.
that i let the wind break around me.
and the waters rise.
that i see the wildflowers and the sparrow.
and i sing with sorrow and joy
inside your endless arms.