Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” is a treasure. This morning, after writing a page or so in my journal, my morning pages, I decided to break my rule that the first thing I write every day is unstructured “brain dump”. I find it valuable to get all the junk out and plop it on the page in front of me to sort through, and see if there’s anything worthwhile, before turning the page and forgetting what was on it forever. This morning, however, I turned the page without looking through the drivel my mind was ejecting. I had my sights set on one of Natalie Goldberg’s exercises. She suggests, very simply, answering the question: “Why do I write?” Five pages later, I was getting writer’s cramp. I’m sure I wrote for 30-40 minutes without stopping to think once. Maybe I shook my hand out a few times. I wrote about the colors of ink, and the shapes the letters make on the page, as well as the crazy ideas that finally get some playing time, and the profound thoughts that will not leave me in peace until they are carefully worded and placed gently on the blank page in front of me. I stood up from the table, looked around, and realized how much I needed to do in order to get just a little bit caught up from the last week. In retrospect, aside from everything else I wrote on those four or five pages, that’s why I write. Because when I really sink into it, writing transports me to another place, no matter where I am sitting. I zip from point A to point B unimpeded by time and space. There are no deadlines, no dishes and no dogs that need feeding. I can be anyone I want and any age that suits me. In one sentence I am 10 and in the next 35. I go from memories to imagined futures and back again within a few sentences.
Now I’m getting carried away again. That’s not what I sat down here to write! I actually can’t let myself get carried away because I have to enforce the bedtime rule tonight.
After a crazy busy last week, I decided I would stay in my pj’s until I took the dogs for a walk this afternoon, so I finally got dressed about 2. There was a thick fog this morning that kept the house shrouded most of that time, finally breaking as I got organized to go out with leashes, dogs, camera and a bag for some groceries. I had yet to find anything that I wanted to photograph, and was wondering what, on this monochrome day, would catch my eye. I shot some very ordinary pretty scenes, with my original idea of honoring the mundane in mind, but nothing that truly inspired me – nothing that “made my heart beat faster”. Later, as the pale grey sun was setting, I set up my tripod on the upper back deck and tried a light-painting exercise with some weird paper mache birds as my subjects. I’m not sure whether the results fall into the category of nightmarish or just ridiculous. When I removed the birds from the scene, the background sang all by itself, and I have to post this photograph because I loved it. Something about the moon shining like the sun…
While I was up on the porch playing with mythological paper mache birds and a headlamp, there was a ruckus going on downstairs that I could hear, but I wasn’t paying any attention. It was happy noise, and moms learn to put happy noise on the far shelf of their minds early on, because it means they aren’t needed to put out a fire at the moment. Meanwhile, I was working at creating a photograph when there were dozens happening one floor down. (Ahem… note to self…)
There was a full measure of authentic, joyful living going on right under my feet, all I had to do was walk downstairs and into the middle of it. All in all, there’s nothing grey about any of these images. They are bursting with life. And though I don’t always recognize it, there’s nothing grey about my life… its bursting with life.