Sometimes I wake up and remember, “oh right. Things are different.”
Birds. They start singing around 4:30 am. It is lovely. The moon is so bright it feels like the sun has already risen.
Sometimes I am afraid. And I keep reminding myself that this is the time to keep working and to imagine the world as I want it to be.
Resist being consumed by fear.
I have certainly been in strange situations in my life – in some ways being a squatter in NYC when I was a teenager was sort of like training wheels for this. Not that I am scrounging for food, but an acute sense of survival shimmers like electricity in the air around me. It is not anxiety, more like an awareness that I am alive while humanity is in a twilight state. And an awareness of my own mortality – which again, brings me back to the question – what kind of world do I want to live in?
I am grateful to be reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer right now. I’ve only just begun reading, but it feels hopeful to me. Maybe humans can help the planet. Maybe we can shift our actions and perceptions for a more just and sustainable world – and we can start with the stories we tell ourselves.
What is your new mythology going to be?
While we are social distancing, I have been working more than ever. Music, writing, contemplation and study – and then, surprise, the day is over.
A canvas has been waiting on my easel for me to paint for about two weeks. I have been writing a blog post for about a week now (and for about 6 hours a day – work is long and slow) – hopefully it will be ready today.
A story from my family of origin goes like this:
Accountant Uncle: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Me: “An artist.”
Accountant Uncle: “Oh, you wanna be a bum.”
Me: “I guess that depends on your definition of bum.”
Accountant Uncle meant well. He didn’t want me to be poor. And I bought his story, the story, for a long time.
I ping-ponged back and forth between artist and straight-and-narrow-antispetic-gray-corporate-world or give-everything-university-life for 30 years. I even tried marriage. I could have been fine being a housewife with hobbies and a yoga practice perhaps, but I wasn’t a housewife. I quit all creative aspirations so I could be a bonafide grown up. I was an executive assistant at an investment bank – and with our combined salaries, paid over $50K a year in taxes. (Ironic, now I can’t even get $200.00 a week in unemployment). Taxes were a little less than my yearly salary, but husband wouldn’t let me quit. So I left both him and the job. (And in 2008, lost all my investments, too).
That tightrope walk between my real work and my money job was exhausting – and my best always felt compromised.
New story: I joyfully do my best doing what I love.
I have recently come to the conclusion that I love work. I love discipline. I love creating. As long as it feels meaningful to me. I am better when I do something daily, than when I try to shove it all into a weekend. I love seeing slow progress unfold – feel the lessons become embodied over time.
Building my personal economy over the last year has been a trip. Claiming I have value, my work has value, is new. But that is exactly what I am doing. Finally.
I am only just beginning to shake loose the old narratives.
I am claiming my place in the garden.