Saturday, February 28, 2004

Younger Than Springtime

I stepped outside today to meet my friend for lunch, and was stunned. The weather, ah the weather. Sun. Blue sky. Nearly balmy temperatures.

Oh my god. I think this long cold winter is over.

There's something about the weather opening up that lets the mind open up. You kind of get unstuffed. In the winter, everything seems dark, and closed, somehow. Dry. Harsh. Not just the weather but inside.

Spring, though, is the birth of new things.

I think sometimes we forget how connected we are to the cycles of nature. Maybe if we allowed ourselves to go with the natural flow of life, we wouldn't always feel like we were fighting. We... me. I wouldn't feel that way. There is a season for everything, they say.

I wish I could live closer to nature. Follow the seasons and the sun, the harvest, the hunt. Instead, we run around breaking our lives into false divisions. What is a week, really? Someone just randomly decided to make weeks how we plan our lives. (Unless you think god really did create the world in six days and then took a break on the seventh. Then it makes perfect sense.) Nine to five. Is that really the most productive schedule?

Or what about age? I mean, why is it that 16, 18, 21, 30 are these definitive ages.
Take 30. By then, people are supposed to be well set in their lives, know what it is they are doing and be on that path that leads them to success and fruitfulness. How many people freak out when they hit the big 3-0? Who decided that 30 was the age when people were supposed to be already there?

It causes a lot of unneccesary panic, I think, to make these markers iin life.

Maybe some people are ready to be really IN their lives when they are 18, maybe some need another 20 years to decide what they are, who they are.

I've been thinking about artists-- particularly musicians. If you were to go by the music industry, the best time in a musician's creative life would be from about 18 to 25. I mean, that's what they are selling, right? That's who they are looking for. But, doesn't it take life experience, long practice, and development to really grow into your talent?

Take for intance American Idol. All those young fresh faced kids. Scrubbed clean of dirt and personality. Maybe they can sing, some of them, but where is the depth? It takes a while to grow into who you are, both as a person and as an artist. Anybody can be polished and synthesized into something you can play on the radio stations, but is that what it means to be an artist? All I know is that when I watch that show and cringe at the kids onstage, I would really like to hear and see someone who is comfortable with who they are, as artist and human.

We as a society spend too much time with all these false definitions. Youth and beauty do not equal quality. We are run by these "should be's." You should be somewhere by 18, by 25, oh lord, by 30, you're already over the hill. Follow the schedule that someone has set out for you-- who was that, any way?

I don't know. Here I am living the life of a 23 year old, bartending and painting and being free. But I don't fee like I'm caught in some eternal adolescence. Where I am is important to my growth as an artist and a person. And, I am not at the same place as the 23 year old writers/artists/musicians/actors who are waiting tables and beginning their careers as artists.

I'm really glad that I took the time to develop my mind, my craft, my spirit,, my life. I'm glad I went down a different path as a teacher. I would never give that up, even though it might have set me back on my path as an artist/writer.

I'm not on the map anymore. I'm not following the prescribed road that I thought I was supposed to. I'm over the age of thirty and have still not published my fiction and poetry, have still not had that gallery show. For that matter, I have not gotten married or had kids. Once upon a time, I thought you had to do all that before you were thirty or you wouldn't get there. I thought life was over once you hit thirty.

According to all those definitions and landmarks, my youth has flown, and all my opportunities. All the maps I made when I was ten, fifteen, twenty-one have all flown out the window.

Mapless, I am.

Boundless. Ageless. All potential-- like Springtime.


Monday, February 23, 2004


I work at a restaurant where I am one of the oldest people working on the floor and on the bar. I'm 33, and most of the girls, right now, are about 23. Some only 19 or 21.

I listen to them talk about themselves. They say they are fat. They all say they are fat.

None of them are fat.

"Look at how big my arms are."

"I wish I had your flat stomach."

"Am I fat? Do you think I'm getting fat? Do I look fat?"

They will not believe me when I tell them they are not fat, they are fine, they are beautiful, they are in fact slender. All they see is what is wrong with themselves. None of them think the others are fat, just them, they're all wrong. They're not good enough.

Man, what we do to ourselves.

I don't know if this is a girl thing or if guys do it too.

What would it be like if everyone could actually see how much they rock, be honest with themselves about what is good and desirable and amazing about themselves? Would they then have power in their lives? Would they then be able to pour their energy into loving themselves and others, being productive, making breakthroughs, living the life they want to live-- instead of self loathing?

What would the world be like if everyone believed they deserved love-- not in an overcompensatory way, but actually really honoring themselves?

That's what I want for my own life. Even if I don't suffer from body dismorphic disorder the way the girls at my job do (and that's because I worked on making peace with my body, and un-surprisingly, now I recognize that my body rocks.), I still put myself down for a multitude of other imagined wrongs.

I am going to practice honoring the rest of my life and talents and skills and choices and in fact, the whole of who I am.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Language of the Land

Life is crazy. Life is complicated. Life is this constant balance of active and passive, thought and deed.

It's not that there's anything crazy going on in my life, now, except for me. I've been in a little bit of a funk. I think I've figured out why. It's basically because I don't feel like I am in action. I don't feel like I am doing what I need to do in order to be able to feed my higher goals.

Turns out, getting my rent paid is not a higher goal.

So, I need to put my energy, my focus into what is important, not what is happening around me. I get so pulled off base by the immediacies of living. And I keep ignoring the fact that what I need to balance myself is a spiritual practice. Somehow, it seems like such a waste of time, hours spent staring at a wall that don't end with a product in hand. Silly girl, huh, thinking product is just what you can hold in your hand.

It's just like what I was talking about before, how I need to accept and value the silent times, the dark times, the shadow times, because they are what feed the large and loud times. Spirit feeds physical, just as physical feeds spiritual.

Being an artist is like being in the wilderness without any sign posts-- at least for me. I have to learn the language of the land and one of the languages is spiritual. But even so, I've got to keep the action going, too. I've got to keep the feet moving, the hands moving. It's not just about taking in the signs around me, but about doing something with them.

Stay in action. Be out in the world-- but not mindlessly-- with purpose. Don't get pulled off course by all the chattering worries. God, it's so easy to be pulled off course. Stay on course.

And dream.